While poking around the other day, I came across the 2002 Budget for the United States. There are all sorts of goodies contained within its 241 pages (which doesn't seem very long for something you'd imagine to be as big as the US budget). One of the most enlightening tidbits for me was the, "$14.2 billion increase in Department of Defense spending in 2002 to begin to arrest the decline in national security[.]" Decline in national security!? I had no idea we were experiencing a security decline, no wonder I've felt so out of sorts lately.
Here's another laugher, tucked into page 37 beneath the "Solar and Renewable Resources" heading in the Energy section,
Solar and renewable energy will benefit from the Administration's legislative proposal to open a small part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas leasing and production. This process will generate bidding bonuses for the Federal government estimated at $1.2 billion, to become available in 2004, which will be made available over a series of years to increase the funding for solar and renewable energy technologies.
Available in 2004, eh? So during the Bush-Cheney term no money derived from the infiltration and disruption of this pristine wilderness will be invested in renewable energy sources. Interesting. As long as we're "direct[ing] research toward the most critical barriers to expansion of coal use for power generation in the United States"¹ I guess we won't really need those alternative energy sources much anyway.
And of course, my dream of high-speed rail development didn't make it into the budget [ed note: not sure it was ever proposed]. It looks like the rail budget is only $521 million (see p. 69, Transportation, Passenger Rail) "to support Amtrak capital improvements and equipment maintenance." Wouldn't a high-speed rail system (like Thalys) reduce aircraft and car pollution by reducing the number of trips made by such vehicles? And improve people's travel experience? And reduce all that "air rage" we keep hearing about? Imagine a high-speed train along the west coast, all the way from Seattle to San Diego. And trains from LA and San Francisco to Vegas. How fun would that be? And fast!
It occurs to me that perhaps I should just move to Europe, where they appear to care more about the environment and the trains already exist.