Infrastructure


Growing Opposition to AT&T's Attack on LifeLine Program

Randy ShawBy Randy Shaw


Beyond Chron

As we described on July 10, the California State Legislature is moving toward passing AB 1407, an AT &T backed measure that would devastate the state’s LifeLine phone program. The Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee voted 6-1 in favor of the bill on July 8, and the Senate Appropriations Committee votes on August 19. AT&T is used to getting its way in Sacramento, but the 1.2 million low-income Californians whose phone rates will jump under AB 1407 are finding surprising support from influential forces.

Does Industry Have a Future in the Bay Area?

Zelda BronsteinBy Zelda Bronstein

In recent weeks a broad array of progressives has rallied opposition to Plan Bay Area, a state-mandated proposal to reduce the region's carbon emissions and still accommodate massive increases in jobs and population by encouraging dense infill development close to transit, i.e. Smart Growth. Drafted by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Plan Bay Area claims to "be taking equity into account." However, the plan's own assessment concedes that its implementation "could result in residential or business disruption or displacement of substantial numbers of existing population and housing," and that those who cannot pay the "higher prices resulting from increased demand" for new housing and commercial space will be forced out.

How Taxpayers Foot Walmart's Bills

Allison MannosBy Allison Mannos

Walmart's expansion strategy for Los Angeles and other urban areas has been to avoid public oversight by choosing real estate that doesn't require public review - and, where possible, to secure public subsidies, often with little public scrutiny.

"Avalanche" of Lawsuits Hit DSC Over Bay Delta Plan

Dan BacherBy Dan Bacher

The North Coast Rivers Alliance, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Associations and Winnemem Wintu (McCloud River) Tribe on Friday, June 14, filed a lawsuit against the Delta Plan approved recently by the Delta Stewardship Council.

Attorney Stephan C. Volker filed the litigation in the Sacramento County Superior Court, charging that the Delta Plan violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009 and the Public Trust Doctrine.

California HSR Clears Last Regulatory Hurdle, Groundbreaking Set for This Summer

By Robert Cruickshank

Congressional Republicans and others opposed to the California high speed rail project had been hoping the Surface Transportation Board would give them a big win and block construction of the HSR project this summer. But that won’t be happening. Instead the STB has ruled in favor of the California HSR project, granting the section from Merced to Fresno an exemption from STB approval rules.

Members of Congress Slam Brown's Peripheral Tunnel Plan

Dan BacherBy Dan Bacher

On the banks of the Sacramento River less than a mile from the State Capitol on May 30, five Members of Congress from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region held a press conference to blast the current Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels and the lack of input afforded their constituents.

As the Representatives spoke, adult spring run Chinook salmon and American shad, fish whose very existence is threatened by the peripheral tunnels, migrated up the system to their spawning grounds. Meanwhile, juvenile fall run Chinook salmon, including 3 million released into the river by the Nimbus Fish Hatchery in May, made their way downriver to the ocean.

Building Transportation Infrastructure in a Broken Political System

By Robert Cruickshank

Over at his blog, Alon Levy has an interesting post calling for more democracy in the planning and authorization of transportation infrastructure. Levy points to Switzerland as an example of a political system where transportation projects are routinely put to a referendum and the results are generally positive. He contrasts that with the California high speed rail project, which he argues was the product of a flawed political process:

I've begun to believe that California's original sin with its HSR project is that it refused to do the same. Prop 1A was a referendum for what was billed as one third of the cost, $10 billion. In reality it was $9 billion and $1 billion in extra funds for connecting local transit; in year of expenditure dollars the estimated budget then was $43 billion, so barely a fifth of the project's cost was voted on. The HSR Authority planned on getting the rest of the money from federal funding and private-sector funding. Prop 1A even required a 1:1 match from an external source, so confident the Authority was that it would get extra money.

The Hollowing Out of Government

Robert ReichBy Robert Reich

The West Texas chemical and fertilizer plant where at least 15 were killed and more than 200 injured a few weeks ago hadn't been fully inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 1985. (A partial inspection in 2011 had resulted in $5,250 in fines.)

OSHA and its state partners have a total of 2,200 inspectors charged with ensuring the safety of more than 8 million workplaces employing 130 million workers. That comes to about one inspector for every 59,000 American workers.

There's no way it can do its job with so few resources, but OSHA has been systematically hollowed out for the years under Republican administrations and congresses that have despised the agency since its inception.

Ray LaHood: HSR is Obama's Crowning Glory

By Robert Cruickshank

Ray LaHood gave some parting remarks this week as he wraps up his tenure as U.S. Transportation Secretary. He was full of praise for President Barack Obama, but high speed rail was at the top of the list.

Proposed "Water Tunnels" a Death Sentence for the Bay Delta

By Bill Jennings

For over a quarter of a century I've labored in the trenches of the water rights and water quality processes trying to protect it. We have a broad suite of laws protecting the Bay Delta - among them: the state constitution; water code; public trust doctrine; state and federal endangered species, water quality and environmental review acts; fish and wildlife code; and the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) to mention a few. Yet the biological tapestry of this estuary is collapsing. And the agencies that have violated and failed to enforce these laws over three decades are now bringing you the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).