Environmental Project Held Up By…Environmental Regulations?

California’s high speed rail project has been championed by big-spending transportation pork enthusiasts (who just can’t wait to get $2 billion from the federal government for a $68 billion+ project) and environmentalists (who want to save the future by bankrupting the present). Other groups in favor of the massive expenditure are the usual suspects: Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, the Obama Administration, unions and, of course, congressional Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Unfortunately, for all of these forces, the general public is against the system.

A recent poll has shown that Californians don’t want this train to be built. Why? Because it costs too much to build and therefore too much to ride, so people in the area don’t plan to use it. Nearly 60% of those polled said they would vote against the train if it came up for a re-vote.

But let’s put all that aside. Public disillusionment with the project is but one of the problems the train now faces. You see, while the train might, theoretically, alleviate congestion and thus emissions sometime in the future, some claim the construction damages the environment in the present. And that is not acceptable to environmentalists.

The environmentalists’ chief concerns revolve around air quality and that the construction might harm some fish and the San Joaquin kit fox, which is endangered.

The current plans for the train, which Gov. Brown says must be built (now!), could supposedly harm a few endangered species. Could harm. According to Daniel Russell, deputy assistant field supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it has not been determined whether the project would actually harm those species.

But as with most projects, radical environmentalists will latch on any excuse to hold up construction. Why? Well, Kathryn Phillips, director of the Sierra Club California, will tell you why:

“The kit fox is pretty charismatic.”

Cuteness (and it is very, very cute) aside, charismatic animals get shows on Animal Planet or gigs in Vegas. But all kit-ding aside, this is just another example of environmentalists getting up in arms over things they are supposed to favor.

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