Full Speed Ahead: Creating Green Jobs through Freight Rail Expansion
Over the past two centuries, rail has helped America realize its potential and become the world’s leading economic power. In this new century, rail’s eminence as an economic engine has the potential to be as great, and also produce significant energy savings, reduce pollution, move cargo across the country efficiently as part of a multi-modal freight network, and create an estimated 7,800 green jobs per billion dollars invested.
The recent recession, and the massive job loss that accompanied it, shows that a status quo approach will not suffice if America is to leave the 21st century stronger than when it entered. A truly balanced transportation network that achieves higher efficiencies among passenger and freight modes will help create an infrastructure platform that makes America more competitive in the global economy. Freight rail occupies an important role in this multi-modal network, and merely maintaining share within a growing freight market would forego the significant opportunities presented by rail’s demonstrated ability to reduce oil consumption, achieve system and vehicle efficiencies to reduce pollution, as well as create and sustain quality employment throughout the economy.
Freight rail expansion would create thousands of quality green jobs and induce overall employment and economic growth while strengthening many of America’s goods-producing industries. Furthermore, freight rail has already demonstrated its ability to achieve significant efficiencies resulting in lower fuel use and reduced pollution; increased investment would advance this progress, which has doubled the overall industry’s efficiency in a few decades.
As America moves full speed ahead to a clean energy economy, freight rail’s crucial role in that transition can be expanded through sound policy choices that maximize the public and economic benefits of this industry.