Friday, February 8, 2013
A new report released today by the Environmental Law & Policy Center shows investment in the next generation of rail would increase rail manufacturing and jobs throughout the industrial Midwest.
“Manufacturers across the heartland stand ready to build a 21st century transportation system for America. By investing in high-speed rail, we can revitalize manufacturing, increase mobility, create jobs and reduce pollution.”
The study profiles manufacturers and supply chain companies in the Midwest that are ready to begin making parts and putting people to work improving existing rail systems in the US. This includes 122 in Ohio, 99 in Indiana, 49 in Michigan, 84 in Illinois, 73 in Wisconsin, 26 in Minnesota and 7 in Iowa.
The complete report is online at and can be accessed here.
Manufacturers in the Midwest and beyond are ready and waiting to produce the components and materials needed to usher in America’s next generation of rail, and long-term federal and state government investment is the catalyst for a manufacturing renaissance in the industrial Midwest.
In addition to jobs and economic benefits for the region, a modernized Chicago-hubbed Midwest Network would provide passengers with fast affordable rail service to cities across the Midwest. Travel times between major cities will fall from 30 to 50 percent.
Monday, January 28, 2013
JANUARY 28, 2013 1:31 PM
Advance Policies that Spur Innovation
By Howard A. Learner
Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center
Advancing climate change solutions is America’s economic growth opportunity to lead global investment and advances in clean energy development and technological innovations. It’s also our moral obligation for the next generations’ vitality. Here are five key ways that the Obama Administration and Congress can move solutions forward:
First, Congress should extend the federal wind power production tax credit (PTC) for a reasonable period of time (with phase-down) in order for America to continue capturing the job creation, economic growth and greenhouse gas pollution reduction benefits from modern wind power development. The short-term PTC extension in the fiscal cliff deal will spur manufacturing orders and project development. However, stability and predictability is needed, as wind power blade and turbine technologies and better siting techniques improve operating capacity factors. The on-again, off-again PTC uncertainty discourages investment, costs jobs and weakens American clean energy leadership.
Second, solar PV and battery storage technological advances are energy market game changers that can accelerate greenhouse gas pollution reductions. Federal R&D and commercialization support for breakthrough renewable energy technological innovations is vital for America’s economic future and global leadership. The Federal government should not shortchange R&D that can spur solar and battery improvements, which can both modernize America’s energy grid system and be exported to developing countries to help solve global climate change problems while upgrading living conditions for many.
Third, energy efficiency is the best, fastest and cheapest solution to addressing energy needs and pollution problems. The “quiet revolution” in energy efficiency is holding down electricity demand and reducing pollution, saving residential and business consumers money on their utility bills, creating good installation jobs, and boosting local economies as people spend their energy savings at Main Street businesses across the nation. The Obama Administration and Congress should keep advancing the U.S. DOE appliance efficiency standards and the U.S. EPA’s Energy Star program, which are working well in spurring progress, along with billions of dollars of energy efficiency program investments in the states and the private sector’s efficiency technology advances. LED lighting improvements over the next few years are another energy market game changer that can significantly reduce electricity demand and carbon pollution, while saving consumers money.
Fourth, let’s seize transportation sector opportunities for climate change solutions. The federal clean car and truck standards adopted during President Obama’s first term are a big step forward. Modernizing the rail system to accelerate high-speed rail development can improve mobility, reduce greenhouse gas pollution, create jobs and spur economic growth. Modernizing public transit for urban, suburban and rural communities requires investment in Congress’ next transportation reauthorization legislation. Improving transportation mobility and accessibility can be achieved together with reducing carbon pollution.
Fifth, the U.S. EPA has proceeded thoughtfully and carefully with its responsibilities for the important greenhouse gas pollution reduction standards. It’s now more than five years since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. It’s now time for EPA to fully move forward in advancing and accomplishing all of the necessary rulemakings in a fair, legal and balanced manner. The EPA must also have sufficient funding to effectively implement and enforce its Clean Air Act (and Clean Water Act and other statutory) responsibilities. Elections have consequences. The partisan attacks on EPA did not persuade a majority of American voters and electors. Unless Congressional opponents can muster the votes – unlikely, it seems, for now – to change the Clean Air Act or enact a replacement carbon tax mechanism, then EPA must move forward and be appropriated sufficient resources to do its job fairly, reasonably and well to achieve cleaner air, cleaner water and greenhouse gas pollution reductions for public health, safety and welfare.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
CHICAGO – Howard A. Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, and a lead advocate for high-speed rail, congratulates Nippon-Sharyo and Sumitomo Corp. of America on being chosen, through a competitive process, to manufacture 130 next generation passenger rail cars. The bi-level rail cars were commissioned by four states—Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and California—and will be assembled in Rochelle, Ill.
“This railcar procurement award is very good news for Illinois job creation and for the entire Midwest’s rail supply chain businesses. Nippon-Sharyo will need to purchase everything from steel to bolts to couplings to seats, and Midwest manufacturers are poised to help deliver those goods. This high-speed rail investment will create jobs in Illinois, business in the Midwest, and modern rail transportation for all of us.
“Manufacturing 130 modern new passenger railcars in Illinois makes clear that high-speed rail development is good for jobs, good for economic growth and good for the environment. This advances the region’s position as a leading rail manufacturing center.
“Modern, fast, comfortable and convenient high-speed trains will improve mobility, reduce pollution, create new jobs and spur economic growth for Illinois and the Midwest.”
Thursday, February 16, 2012
ELPC Deputy Director Kevin Brubaker, who leads ELPC's high-speed rail efforts, was aboard the Midwest's first high-speed rail train to leave Union Station.
On Feb. 15, 2012, high-speed rail travel arrived in the Midwest. The first high-speed train outside the Northeast United States departed Chicago’s Union Station at 7 a.m., traveling through Indiana and southwest Michigan to its destination in Kalamazoo, Mich. The 138-mile journey, which included a stop in New Buffalo, Mich., was completed in 2 hours, 8 minutes.
Kalamazoo is the highway point on the Chicago-Detroit passenger rail corridor. Eventually, officials say that 5.5-hour trip will be trimmed to 3.75 hours.Other high-speed rail corridors in the Midwest will include routes from Chicago to St. Louis and the Twin Cities.
Read more from CBS 2 Chicago and MLive.com.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
In this interview with Crain’s Chicago Business, newly confirmed Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider says that “job one” is “to get the organization to start thinking multimodally.” Read the article.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) commends Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for awarding more than $186 million to the Illinois Department of Transportation for work on the extension of the Chicago-St. Louis line to Joliet. Work will begin in the spring and will enable improved 110-mph passenger rail service along 70 percent of the line.
Howard Learner, ELPC President and a nationally recognized expert on high-speed passenger rail, had this to say about the award:
“This grant provides a critical step in bringing high-speed rail to the Midwest. Investing in modern, fast, comfortable and convenient higher-speed rail service is a smart move, since better rail service will improve mobility, reduce pollution, create new jobs and spur economic growth. While the media is fixated on the problems of the California corridor, the Midwest has sensibly begun building a first-class system that will reach 110 mph within a year.
“We are already seeing the economic benefits rail is bringing to the region. Normal, Illinois has already seen more than $200 million in investment. With the help of this grant, trains will reduce congestion and make the Midwest a better place to start businesses and create jobs.”
The entire upgrade of the Chicago-St. Louis line will reduce travel time and improve on-time performance. Ridership has grown 137 percent during the last five years on this popular corridor.
American-made trains will be used on the lines, which will be purchased as part of the $782 million grant for domestic manufacturing. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, California, Washington and Oregon will purchase 120 be-level passenger cars, along with 33 quick-acceleration locomotives.
ELPC is nationally known for its high-speed rail advocacy. The organization has studied passenger rail for nearly two decades and provide transportation counsel and policy support to state, local and federal government.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Less than a week after Michigan legislators approved the state’s portion of funding for enhanced passenger rail, Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood released the $196 million federal award that will reduce train travel time by 30 minutes between Detroit and Chicago.
The project will create approximately 800 new jobs during the construction phase, which is expected to begin late spring 2012, and will facilitate service to current and future freight rail customers, including major shippers like Ford Motor Company. The money will be used for track and signal improvements between Detroit and Kalamazoo, Mich., allowing for speeds up to 110 mph on 77 percent of Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water services between Detroit and Chicago. The net result is a 30 minute reduction in travel time between those destinations.
“Michigan’s elected officials have put the needs of their constituents above partisan bickering. They have recognized that transportation is a bipartisan concern. By working together across party lines, they have allowed Washington to lay the tracks for Michigan’s economic future,” said ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder summarized the issue. “Investing in rail service will spark economic development in communities along a corridor linking Detroit and Chicago, two vital Midwest cities,” Snyder said. “A faster, reliable passenger rail system is a priority for younger generations and vital to Michigan’s ability to compete globally as businesses look to locate or expand. The rail improvements will also hasten the transport of freight, a priority for Ford Motor Company and other Michigan businesses along the route.”
ELPC is a vocal advocate for improved passenger rail, working closely with lawmakers around the region to establish new service and improve existing rail lines. The rail line between Chicago and Detroit is part of the Midwest High-Speed Rail Network that will connect cities around the region and tie together the regional economy.
Visit www.highspeedrailworks.org for more information.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Yesterday, in an overwhelmingly bi-partisan vote, the Michigan House of Representatives voted 101-8 to approve a $39 million state appropriation that will unlock $161 million in federal funding to enhance passenger train service between Detroit and Chicago. The Michigan Senate passed the bill last week.
Federal grants to improve the Detroit-Chicago line now total more than $400 million, almost half of which was money rejected by Florida. These funds will improve service between Kalamazoo and Dearborn; upgrade stations in Dearborn, Troy-Birmingham, and Battle Creek; and reduce congestion between passenger and freight trains — ultimately leading to a consistent 4-hour trip between Chicago and Detroit.
Learn more about the Midwest High-Speed Rail Network.
Friday, September 23, 2011
High-speed rail has been an active topic in U.S. Senate appropriations discussions this week. On Wednesday, a subcommittee omitted all funding for the initiative, but on Thursday the Appropriations Committee amended the legislation to direct $100 million to high-speed rail next year. This appropriation adds to the $10.1 billion that Congress has directed to the national program since 2009. Approximately $2.6 billion came to the Midwest High-Speed Rail Network.
Read more about the appropriation from Bloomberg.