Operations of California's high-speed rail system between 2022 and 2050 could remove between 27.1 million and 44.9 million tons of greenhouse gases by shifting travelers from automobiles and airplanes to electric-powered high-speed trains.
The greenhouse-gas estimates were included in a report this week from the rail agency to the state Legislature. Legislators made the report a requirement last summer when they approved money for the statewide rail project to begin construction in the San Joaquin Valley.
The emission reductions include a calculation of the rail agency's commitment to use only electricity from renewable sources -- solar, geothermal, wind and biogas -- instead of from power plants that burn fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas.
The report also estimates that between this summer and 2018, construction of the first 30-mile stretch of railbed and infrastructure in the Fresno-Madera area will produce more than 30,100 tons of carbon dioxide. The rail authority states that it will make up for those emissions through an extensive tree-planting program in the Valley.
To make up for other air pollution during construction, the agency reported that it is developing agreements with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to pay into a program to replace old irrigation pumps, school buses, truck engines and other aging fuel-burning equipment.