Pracht: “Where would Ohio be today if it opted out of the interstate highway system?”
John Kasich, the newly tea-party governor of Ohio doesn’t just deny climate science. He is apparently unaware that everyone from the German military to the once staid International Energy Agency is warning of a looming peak oil crisis (see World’s top energy economist warns: “We have to leave oil before oil leaves us”).
And so the Tea Party crowd is declaring unilateral disarmament in our effort to stop the nearly $1 billion day outflow of money from Americans to foreign oil producer (see “Passenger rail is not in Ohio’s future”: New GOP governors kill $1.2 Billion in high-speed rail jobs).
Kasich can stop passenger rail for now, but he can’t stop the inexorable march of gasoline prices past $3 a gallon to $4 and then $5, which will ultimately reveal how inane his decision was. The CEO of an Ohio-based railroad-car manufacturer severely criticized Kasich’s myopia, as ThinkProgress reports:
Rather than acknowledge the number of jobs created or kept afloat by Democratic policies like the Recovery Act, Republicans insist that Democrats have done nothing to help create private-sector jobs. Future House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has said, “Washington has kept the private sector in bust while manufacturing a boom for the public sector.”
Boehner’s bosom-buddy Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) beat a similar drum on the campaign trail. Touting his plan to help the private-sector “quickly help create jobs,” Kasich insisted he would help “improve the atmosphere in our state for real business development” by meeting “the needs of businesses to overcome” governmental “snafus.” But Kasich undermined his rhetoric by killing Ohio’s high-speed rail project. In doing so, he derailed many businesses’ economic development plans and effectively killed the private-sector jobs he promised to create, leaving one businessman to call his decision “unbelievable,” “mind-boggling,” and “naive”:
Locally, certain not to happen is construction of a $15 million facility planned for Columbus by US Railcar Co. The plant would have employed up to 200 when fully staffed, said Mike Pracht, president and chief executive officer of the Columbus-based railroad-car manufacturer.
“It’s unbelievable these states would send back $400 million and $800 million in free money,” Pracht said. “It’s mind-boggling.”
“The only thing I can compare it to is the interstate-highway program back in the ’60s. Where would Ohio be today if it opted out of the interstate highway system? To suggest passenger rail would be any different is naive.”
Pracht said that in addition to the jobs his company would have added, abandoning the rail plan negates millions of dollars in potential development that would have clustered around each rail station along the 258-mile route.
Pracht’s anger is legitimate. The Cleveland developer Forest City Enterprises was planning projects that would create $180 million of taxable property. Dayton, OH anticipated around $250 million worth of downtown development around the rail station and, in Columbus, OH, the rail line “was expected to spur business development” and “provide a link between Downtown and Port Columbus.” But, as Forest City’s spokesman put it, “Clearly, it won’t happen now. It’s a governmental decision.” A decision that has already cost Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) private-sector jobs as well.
But Kasich is “unrelenting” in his mission to overtly rebuke his campaign promises. While acknowledging that the train would create private-sector jobs, Kasich’s spokesman Rob Nichols scoffed Kasich wasn’t going to build a train that “will cost taxpayers.” A curious excuse given the fact that Kasich is perfectly willing to spend taxpayer money to “pay for security improvements” at his own private residence. Because Kasich is choosing to be “the first Ohio governor in a generation” to live in his private residence rather than in the already secured governor’s mansion, Ohioans will now pay for “around-the clock security at the Kasich home” as well as at the official residence.
Decisions like these help to explain the seven point drop in his approval rating before he’s even taken office. But rather than rethink high-speed rail and his other poor economic policies, Kasich is committed to driving the state into further economic disaster. As Nichols said, “We had the debate. The train is dead. The matter is closed.”
Passenger rail is very much in Ohio’s future, no matter how much Kasich tries to stop it:
- Peak oil production coming sooner than expected
- What will it take to end our oil addiction?
- Science/IEA: World oil crunch looming? Not if we can find six Saudi Arabias!
- IEA says oil will peak in 2020
- Deutsche Bank: Oil to hit $175 a barrel by 2016, which “will drive a final stake into long-term oil demand,” spurred by a “disruptive technology” “” “the hybrid and electric car, that will very likely have a far greater positive impact on oil efficiency than the market currently expects”
- Merrill: Non-OPEC production has likely peaked, oil output could fall by 30 million bpd by 2015
- Why electricity is the only alternative fuel that can lead to energy independence