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The Harlem Blast And Our Natural Gas Infrastructure

New York’s explosion in Harlem is a grim reminder of the country’s  enormous and aging  gas infrastructure.  We’ll look at the risks and looming costs of what lies beneath.

Firefighters look over the site of a building explosion in New York, Friday, March 14, 2014. Using sound devices to probe for voices and telescopic cameras to peer into small spaces, workers searching a pile of rubble from a gas explosion in the East Harlem section of Manhattan, continued to treat it as a rescue operation, holding onto the possibility of finding survivors from a blast that brought down two apartment buildings and killed at least eight people. (AP)

Firefighters look over the site of a building explosion in New York, Friday, March 14, 2014. Using sound devices to probe for voices and telescopic cameras to peer into small spaces, workers searching a pile of rubble from a gas explosion in the East Harlem section of Manhattan, continued to treat it as a rescue operation, holding onto the possibility of finding survivors from a blast that brought down two apartment buildings and killed at least eight people. (AP)

They’re still digging in New York – East Harlem – trying to find bodies and gas lines after the big explosion last week that brought down two buildings and left eight dead.  Exact cause of the explosion is still not named, but everyone’s looking at old gas pipes – a century and more old.  America’s natural gas infrastructure leaks many billions of cubic feet of gas every year.  You may smell it on your street.  And that’s just the beginning of this country’s infrastructure issues.  Roads, bridges, airports, water systems. This hour On Point:  On gas and beyond, the bill due for American infrastructure.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Chris Kirkham, business reporter for the Huffington Post. (@c_kirkham)

Rob Jackson, professor of environmental sciences at Duke and Stanford.

Robert Puentes, senior fellow with the Brookings Institutions’ Metropolitan Policy Program. (@rpuentes)

From Tom’s Reading List

Associated Press: Explosion a Reminder of NYC’s Aging Infrastructure — “Even while the cause remains unknown, a deadly blast that leveled two buildings served by a 127-year-old gas main has provided a jarring reminder of just how old and vulnerable much of the infrastructure is in New York and many other cities nationwide. A detailed report issued only a day before Wednesday’s explosion in East Harlem estimates that $47 billion is needed for repairs and replacement over the next five years to spare New York from havoc.”

The Wall Street Journal: Aging Park Avenue Gas Pipe Eyed as Possible Cause of Explosion — “Authorities said they had yet to pinpoint the cause of the blast, which leveled two apartment buildings and killed at least three people and injured more than two dozen. If officials determine that the explosion was caused by a gas pipeline, it would likely rank among the deadliest such incidents since February 2011, when a gas pipe exploded in Allentown, Pa., killing five people.”

Washington Post: U.S. Infrastructure gets D+ in annual report — “Using ratings by civil engineers in every state, the ASCE gave the national infrastructure an overall grade of D-plus, an average pulled down by some of the biggest problem areas — aviation, drinking-water supply, roads, transit and sewage treatment “

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  • Jay

    Instead of spending $5 billion to help overthrow the legitimate, democratically elected govt. of Ukraine and replace it with some neo-fascist thugs, the Obama Administration should have instead taken that $5 billion and removed all the old, rusted out gas pipes in NYC, and replaced them with new ones. Just think of the jobs that could have been created, and the lives that could have been saved. It boggles the mind.

    • Don_B1

      And just how would the Obama administration have got the authorization through a recalcitrant Congress, which has already refused to pass the 2011 American Jobs Act?

      Looks to me like you are just making up stuff to make snide attacks at President Obama.

      • Jay

        Don’t you have anything better to do than make excuses for Obama 24/7? You need to wake up to reality.

        • Don_B1

          That was not an excuse!

          With all Republicans acting like the worst of their radical right members, I don’t have to make up excuses as you do.

          It is a real fact of life in the dysfunctional politics that Tea/Republicans have created.

          it has been documented, among many other places, here;

          http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114206/republican-obstructionism-ideological-or-partisan

          But as the Pete Seeger song, The Big Muddy, went: “push on, push on!”

          • Jay

            You support a President Obama who in turn has admitted that he supports al-Qaeda in Syria, and neo-fascist thugs in Ukraine and you wonder why nobody takes your blogs seriously or respects your opinions? Even Dr. Cornel West, who was a huge Obama supporter in 2008, is now calling Obama a war criminal

            http://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/cornel-west-obama-a-war-criminal-87702.html
            Apparently everyone else got the memo that Obama exports violence and chaos around the world, except for you.

          • Don_B1

            What does U.S. actions in Syria have to do with the regulation of natural gas pipelines in the U.S., other that let you introduce a snark comment about President Obama?

            You have no answer and are desperately casting about for something to distract from your losing argument. Good luck with that!

            Unlike you I support President Obama in many actions where he is mostly correct but criticize him when he gets it wrong.

            You criticize him whether he is correct or wrong.

          • Jay

            I criticize the President for wasting $5 billion dollars to help a bunch of neo-fascists overthrow the democratically elected govt. in Ukraine, when the infrastructure in this country is crumbling and collapsing. Your problem is that you can’t view Obama in an objective or critical manner. You only see this President, and everything he does, through rose colored glasses.

          • jefe68

            Wrong show.

          • Don_B1

            The amount is $1 billion in the form of a loan guarantee, not a $1 billion expenditure, unless Ukraine defaults on the loan.

            http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/03/why-is-the-u-s-sending-1-billion-to-ukraine/

            But you have never been known for your accurate knowledge!

  • John Cedar

    Never let a [tragedy] go to waste…”Even while the cause remains unknown…”
    Good grief.

    • Bluejay2fly

      Good one, John.

    • jefe68

      Well, yeah that 120 plus year old cast iron pipe had nothing to do with the leak.

      Just like our bridges, gas sewer and waterlines are aging in large parts of the nation and in particular in the older cities. Our infrastructure is a mess. You can add to that the electrical grid as well.

      • Bluejay2fly

        You should see the prison I work at. We have ruptured and leaking pipes spraying water everywhere. The problem is in many cases shutting down the system for repair is impossible because its being used so heavily. Ideally, in my facility we should move all the inmates out of the prison for a year and redo the entire jail instead of the patchwork cob jobs that go on. Unfortunately, we do not think on a large scale like that and opt for the cheap “fix” and waste an ass ton of money on inefficiency.

      • HonestDebate1

        You are wrong, Obama fixed all that with the shovel ready ‘stimulus’ jobs. Don’t you remember?

        • jefe68

          What’s that smell? Why it’s the stench of mendacity.

  • Charles

    It’s a real shame that Engineers aren’t better at playing politics. How many times are we going to have to get up and yell that our country is falling apart in the most basic ways? Instead of listening, the folks who control the purse strings keep funneling money into the same bunch of boondoggles and kickback schemes every year.

    Keep ignoring your Engineers…this thing is going to get a lot worse.

    • embo66

      Republicans are always reluctant to spend $$ on basic things like infrastructure or health care; to a man, they’d all much rather spend it on tax cuts (which mostly benefit the wealthy), under the false notion that somehow all these large, public projects will somehow magically get taken care of in the private sector.

      Virginia is a good case in point. Infrastructure spending on transportation needs, especially in crazy-congested Northern Va, was delayed and delayed by GOP legislatures for decades (last increase was in 1986). Governor after governor campaigned on getting a fix. Business groups and Chambers of Commerce pleaded. Nada.

      When things finally got so bad that the state DOT could barely even manage its maintenance schedule, much less big projects or needed new construction, just enough Republicans finally, grudgingly agreed in 2012 to a new plan that would largely borrow the bulk of the $2 billion appropriated. (Can’t raise fees or taxes, after all!) Yet the Tea Party types were still livid at this heresy and managed to get their boy, Ken Cuccinelli, nominated for governor the following year.

      They lost that election — but as long as their stubborn idiocy prevails, we will be “fixing” ALL of our problems with Scotch tape.

  • wauch

    If you are interested with how this conversation intersects with current pipeline proposals beyond The Keystone check out an interactive map we have been working on here
    http://maps.fractracker.org/latest/?appid=606e1b991ddf45369a30a8216848f038
    And related hydrocarbon infrastructure here
    http://maps.fractracker.org/latest/?appid=0dec7f634bae42bd92b067d9ccaccc55

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    If NYC (as well as other local, state, and federal government officials) had been setting funds aside over the years for infrastructure repairs/upgrades instead of giving in to the extortionist demands of teachers and other public service unions over the years, preventable disasters like this would not happen. I’m sure DiBlasio will have a solution…raise taxes.

    • jefe68

      Yeah, it’s the teachers and public unions fault that our nations infrastructure is falling a apart. By public service unions, you mean those firemen who where risking there lives in the rubble of that building after it collapsed looking for survivors.

      • Fiscally_Responsible

        Paying fair wages and reasonable benefits (not allowing police and others to load up on overtime in their last year of work so that their 30 years of pension benefits when they retire at the ripe old age of 50 aren’t driven skyward by this abuse) is fine. But paying hundreds of incompetent teachers to sit in warehouses doing crossword puzzles because of the militant teachers’ union that makes it impossible to fire them and save that money for infrastructure and other real needs is what I am talking about.

        • Bluejay2fly

          I work law enforcement in NYS. My contract is not one but 5 years in a row and if you deviate more than 10% in any of those years the excess over 10% is thrown out. So for 5 years you must maintain the exact same OT which as you may know is hard to do as OT is random. Also, this means: not getting sick or using your allotted vacation time, not getting deployed to a war, not getting hurt on the job, or not having a family or personal crisis which causes you to miss OT. Because of these aspects it is a lot harder to maintain and is actually a very rare phenomena. What I do not hear you ranting about is how if I die past pension age my family DOES NOT GET ANY PENSION OR MEDICAL. It is as if you died with one day on the job. Nobody complains when that happens. This is a classic case of public ignorance and buying into the divisive propaganda the state wants disseminated to put tax payer v public employee.

          • John Cedar

            Sounds like you chose the wrong branch of “law enforcement”. Should of been a trooper!
            Also sounds like you either don’t understand your employment contract or your employer is in violation of several laws.

          • Bluejay2fly

            My contract is based on Tier 3 which covers most NYS employees hired on or after July 27 1976. I cannot speak for city employees, other Tier members, or other organizations which have similar but slightly different benefits. However, I do know my NYS Retirement Benefit book very well as it is in my lunch pale along with our current contract book. Most people who spout off about public employees do not have a clue or are basing it on a very specific and therefore non typical situation. In essence I have learned that every benefit given to a public employee has a serious and often times excessive downside.

        • Human2013

          Please someone explain to me why conservatives continue to blame the near impovershed public servants while never mentioning the real takers?
          Paul Ryan so eloquently told us that a free lunch leads to a “souless” child. This rhetoric is so inhumane. Your party has completely lost its humanity.

          • jefe68

            It’s the only thing they have, scapegoats.
            The GOP, tea party and conservatives have no ideas, none. So they use scapegoats. Be it immigrants, LBGT community, women or in this case public unions.

          • Bluejay2fly

            They would have made great Jew hating Nazi’s seeing they like scapegoats so much.

          • jefe68

            Uh, lets try to leave out nazis so as not to invoke Godwins law. Well you already did…

          • Bluejay2fly

            Do not think for a minute there are enough conservatives left in this nation to reconstruct the party. I doubt there are enough to even run a township.

          • Human2013

            They never scratch the surface. They never fight the conformity. They read no contracts, no corporate balance sheets, no analysis on the real threat to this country — the rich stealing from the poor. They completely ignore the bible while somehow pulling out a few versuses to undermine women and gays. The conservative party is America’s black eye, our shame, our horrible past coming to fruition, our worst fears, the sum of our worst parts!

          • Bluejay2fly

            It is not true conservatism, to call it that is an insult to many great people. They are an unholy coupling of corporate shills, “religious” fanatics, ignorant patriots, and racists.

          • Human2013

            Your right and that’s not really fair, so will the real Conservatives please stand up. The country is desparately waiting.

          • Bluejay2fly

            But corporations can receive subsidies and they are good people!

          • BHA_in_Vermont

            That would be the Paul Ryan that saved the SS Security Survivor benefits for college? Obviously didn’t need it to live on.

          • Buster1

            if he was capable of working mowing lawns scooping ice cream etc why is that a mark against him? Is being middle class and not the son of a piss poor drunk a strike against a politician? Do we all need to born from the cinders for you to accept an American narrative? You just prove Haters gonna hate Paul is a moron for a lot of reasons but the fact his father was hardworking and died young isnt a valid excuse it is the excuse of a weak minded fool.

    • Bluejay2fly

      You have no clue about the contracts public workers get. Believe me for every perk and good deal the state or city gives there is another aspect where they are ripping the worker off. However, people like you do not know this because you listen to state run propaganda.

      • Don_B1

        You are correct up to the point that you confuse state-run with Tea/Republican propaganda of the radical right wing.

        Those who have a motive for such deceptive themes are those who want lower taxes and smaller government, irrespective of the needs of the society for government to provide necessary services.

    • Human2013

      The wealthiest people in the world live in Manhattan and you put this on the shoulders of our overworked, underpaid teachers and public servants. WOW!

    • lobstahbisque

      In Massachusetts, infrastructure money grows on trees. Unfortunately the poor are too lazy to go out and pick it, so it withers away, and dies.. Pity.

    • Markus6

      Infrastructure is this year’s “children”. We need more money for taxes so we can feed hungry children, or more teachers for our children. Now, it’s more tax money for infrastructure. Sadly, people will fall for this without thinking critically. It may be that we need more investment in infrastructure (I happen to think so). Unfortunately, politicians will move money from infrastructure to pay those who keep them in office (contracts for unions, corporations, etc.) then come back to us and say “I’m afraid we need more from you to fix that bridge”. And we always fall for it.

      After all that’s happened, it amazes me how gullible people can be.

    • AC

      i must apologize, but i think you’re kind of an idiot…..

      • Fiscally_Responsible

        As a homeowner, I must set money aside to pay for major repairs, etc. so that I have the funds when they time comes to do the projects. I can’t use that money for extravagant frills then go hat in hand to my neighbor begging for money to do my repairs. Politicians, especially big city politicians who are beholden to powerful interest such as the teachers union, should have said “NO” to exorbitant demands for the past several decades when contracts were being negotiated and instead put the money aside. As you pointed out in a prior post, this is not a new problem. But it is easier to give in to the interests and kick the can down the road until we have a catastrophic problem. If using foresight and prudently setting money aside to address problems is the plan of an idiot, then I am guilty as charged.

        • Bluejay2fly

          If 20K teachers got and extra 20K dollars through “extortion” as you put it, that would be 400 Million a year. The NYS budget is 120 Billion with 30-40 Billion being spent on medical. For having the word fiscal in your title your fiduciary sense is terrible.

          • Fiscally_Responsible

            The fact of the matter is that government at any level wastes taxpayer funds by the truckload. Just drive by a road crew anywhere where six guys are leaning on their shovels (unless it’s nap time, in which case they are sleeping in the back of their truck) and see how money is wasted. There would be PLENTY of money for instrastructure is government didn’t waste it. And no one spoke to the example that I cited where the teachers’ union defends the warehousing of hundreds of incompetent teachers because it is impossible to get them fired.

          • Bluejay2fly

            You could be the world’s greatest teacher and a student could be a junior thug. If he accuses you of molestation you immediately get suspended and sent to the so called rubber room. There is no doubt in my mind that our educational system is full of waste and abuse ,but harping on pay and benefits when you do not know their contracts is STUPID. It is Fox News propaganda worthy. PS if you ever worked on a road crew in 100 degree heat you would take breaks to as the work is so physically demanding. Calling them lazy is just another ignorant stereotype.

          • Fiscally_Responsible

            If you believe that that is the reason why so many teachers are in the rubber room, I have a bridge to sell you. Albeit, one in need of infrastructure repair.

          • Bluejay2fly

            Your hopeless. I was a teacher and have done construction my entire adult life ,but your the John Stossel expert.

          • Fiscally_Responsible

            Everybody knows that these types of jobs are cushy jobs that you get because your brother-in-law is a politician and uses his political influence to get you the job. And believe me, they stand around leaning on their shovels at all times of the year, not just when it is hot.

          • TFRX

            Ooh, backing off from “unions”, “Cities”, “coastal elites” and “Democrats” to now “every government”.

            Pretty brave of you.

          • Fiscally_Responsible

            If governments were as responsible and careful with the money that they obtain as you and I are with ours, the problem would be solved.

          • John Cedar

            Companies like Con Ed invest billions in infrastructure every year, independently of any state or federal budgets. They are just using this isolated incident to put thier hands out for free money. And the libruls are only to eager to write them a check drawn on someone’s account, besides their own.

        • jefe68

          You really have zero clue on how government works, nor how funding for infrastructure works.

          • Fiscally_Responsible

            You throw tons of money at a wall and see if any of it sticks. If not, you just throw more and more.

          • jefe68

            I think Mark Twain was right:
            “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

      • Don_B1

        Up arrow, but no apology required or necessary!

    • John Cedar

      Is it constitutional for a state to enact an expatriate tax? As long as you have people is idiotic as DiBlasio in charge, you will have philanthropists such as Tom Golisano elect to change their domicile to Florida.

    • MrNutso

      The gas utility is privately owned.

      • Don_B1

        It is the company delivery company that is responsible for the maintenance of the pipes, but these fine capitalists here think that the company can reap the profits and pass on the costs of maintenance to the city and taxpayers.

        Capitalism, raw and unregulated forever!

        • Human2013

          Capitalist can never be trusted to do the right thing. We can’t rely on them to do what is in the best interest of the public. We need to tax them — tax them big.

          • Bluejay2fly

            This mixed capitalism has been compromised. When your father the librarian wants G.E. to get corporate welfare and avoid cleaning up the Hudson so he can earn extra $$$ on his 401K and finally retire that is what we have. Nobody but a few want to pay for the future when it costs money today.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

      The lack of infrastructure maintenance of this type should be built into the cost of the product. Everyone who gets gas from those pipes pays for the gas, but apparently not enough to repair the pipes.

  • Bluejay2fly

    NYC gets some of its water from a system so old and decrepit that it leaks somewhere between 10-20% of the water before it even hits Manhattan.

  • AC

    …is this supposed to be new info? some of us have been going on about this since 2007…..
    if there are people out there really miffed about how their ‘tax dollars’ are spent by politicians, may i suggest offering to do the work desperately needed for less yourselves or something? it must be done. now.

    • dust truck

      but but but! spending money on the people is sochulizm!

      • Don_B1

        Yeah, some of it is even their money!

  • John Cedar

    We should only be worried about about gas line explosions after addressing breast cancer screenings for men. Its a basic risk management concept.

    “The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2013, about 2,240 new cases of breast cancer in men would be diagnosed and that breast cancer would cause approximately 410 deaths in men.”
    http://www.medicinenet.com/male_breast_cancer/page2.htm

    • BHA_in_Vermont

      Yes sir, lets go WAY off point.

      • jefe68

        It’s all these chaps have. Diversions and looking for others to blame instead of dealing with the facts about the infrastructure in our nation.

        • notafeminista

          Hahahahahaha! Maybe you should read some of the posts above.

          • jefe68

            I have read enough of the right wing screeds to come to the conclusions I have already posted. You lot blame everything on unions, women, immigrants, science, taxes and so on. In short I would say a lot of right wingers seem to display a lot of traits of nihilism.

    • Don_B1

      It has been apparent for some time that YOU cannot both walk and chew gum at the same time. That is not an excuse for the government to not try to do both, which it has shown an ability to do in the past, though sometimes not easily when Republicans have anything to say about it.

  • http://www.judydunn.net/ Judy D

    We have had two gas line leaks repaired on my small suburban street in the last year and a half. There are several other spots on the street where we can smell gas. I have called the gas company. They come and say there is no problem.
    It appears that the problem is related to a deep trench dug for the sewer system installed about 8 to 10 years ago, and the fill now settling, and stressing the t-joints in the gas line.
    Why, given the history of two other confirmed leaks, would they let these other leaks go for now? What is the threshold?

    • John Cedar

      The reason they don’t repair the leaks on your street immediately is because outdoor gas leaks are relatively safe. If they probed the gournd and found elevated readings as high as the lower explosive limit, they would repair them immediately.

      • http://www.judydunn.net/ Judy D

        You are right. The problem is that there is a great deal of confusion created by the statements from the utilities that we should notify them immediately if we smell gas, and then the apparent inaction. It is easy to stop bother calling when the response is consistently one of apparent disinterest. It makes you feel like the boy who cried “Wolf!”, and who wants to be him?

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the San Bruno, CA gas explosion 4 years ago. Killed 8, destroyed ~40 houses and damaged ~10 more.

  • X-Ray

    Was it really the cast iron gas main that failed or some pipe in the building, maybe due to someone tinkering with it?

  • Jay

    Early on in the last decade, America could have spent $2 trillion for new roads, bridges, underground pipes, high speed rail, new schools and other infrastructure, but Bush and Cheney decided to invade Iraq instead.

    • Bluejay2fly

      It was spent on those thing just in Iraq.

      • BHA_in_Vermont

        sadly

    • Arkuy The Great

      Let’s try that pretzel logic a bit differently:

      “Early on in the last decade, America could have spent $2 trillion to land men on the moon, Mars and Venus…”

      That’s begging the question.

      • Jay

        I don’t know what you claim to be ‘great’ at, but it definitely isn’t intelligent conversation.

  • creaker

    Infrastructure rot is going to become an unmanageable expense.

  • Emily4HL

    I’m sad that we need both jobs and infrastructure so badly and are still so mired down. We need roads, bridges, gas lines, high capacity internet, public transit and are being left behind… There’s a fairly obvious answer, but we need money to put up front. I think fixing infrastructure will save tons of money in the long run and while costs will go up temporarily, more people will make more money to pay for those costs.

  • georgepotts

    We are wasting money and tax breaks on stupid things like solar and wind. It would be better to provide matching funds for municipal projects around sewer, roads, smart grid, and bridges.

    • OnPointComments

      Imagine the infrastructure that could have been repaired and improved with the green energy funds that were lost on Solyndra, A123, Fisker, Abound Solar, SpectraWatt, First Solar, SunPower, BrightSource, GreenVolts, and on and on.

      • georgepotts

        Evergreen doesn’t even make your list. It was only $50 million wasted.

        • OnPointComments

          The list is far too long to list all of them.

      • Bluejay2fly

        Imagine the money we spent on Israel, South Korea, and rebuilding Japan and Germany. Those countries looked like Detroit post WW2 now they look more modern than any of our states.

    • TFRX

      Hahaha. Seriously, you mean that?

  • John_Hamilton

    Gas companies are natural monopolies (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_monopoly), in that it is more efficient to have one producer with one network of lines throughout cities. When a monopoly is granted, it is with the understanding that the utility will safely maintain its infrastructure, similar to publicly operated water utilities, roads, and even natural resources.

    When a utility is behaving irresponsibly in its pursuit of profit, citizens can decide to convert the monopoly to public ownership and operation. This of course assumes that a democracy exists, and historically private utilities have had an easy time paying off politicians.

    Negligence will always be a problem with privately owned infrastructure, because the profit motive is counterintuitive to investing in infrastructure. We can decide to solve this problem, but we have a culture of avoidance and distraction. We don’t have a responsible business sector, and we don’t have a responsible political sector.

    The public is continually bombarded with bread and circus, so there is a synergy, a pattern or gestalt, of putting money interests above everything else. But hey, it’s time for March Madness, so who cares?

  • georgepotts

    We should also penalize cities and towns that put in 2 acre zoning. They should not be eligible for federal and state money for infrastructure.

    Two acre zoning is bad for development and bad for the environment.

  • Pia Vastatrix

    While not quite infrastructure, I’m interested in the cost of using natural gas in terms of its extraction through fracking. I see ads touting how great it is that LA is converting all its buses to natural gas, but isn’t that foisting off their pollution onto someone else?

    • Don_B1

      Buses burning natural gas rather than gasoline or diesel fuel contribute CO2 to the atmosphere at a rate close to half of the other fuels.

      But that is only for the combustion point. If the fracking companies and the natural gas distributors are allowed to not reduce leakage, the methane that leaks is around 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas (but less long-lived) than CO2.

      Right now the distributors could fix the leaks and sell that gas to customers and reap at least $1 billion in profit after the cost of the fixes. But they are not interested in making that little for the (mental) effort it would take.

      Possibly a fee of twice the cost of the natural gas to their customers for each unit of gas that leaks (amount of gas measured from the well minus the amount of gas deliverd to their customers) could change the distribution companies’ attitudes on when fixing a leak is worthwhile.

  • georgepotts

    We can’t even get people who live on the ocean to pay their fair share for flood insurance.

  • joseph makela

    folks, this is a universal issue. Externalities baby.
    we are under the thumb of utlities, corps and our govt’s.
    the state of disrepair and neglect both physical and financial is astounding

    • Bluejay2fly

      It does not sink in until you travel to Finland or Morocco and realize their stuff looks and works better than ours.

  • georgepotts

    Energy conservation projects help utilities not have to build a new power plant (which is 1/2 the cost of providing power)

  • J__o__h__n

    Why are we even using such an explosive fuel in densely populated areas? Transporting it is hazardous too. Not to mention the fracking.

  • John Cedar

    Gas lines are highly regulated by FERC, the NYS PSC, the mechanical code, OSHA and stakeholders who don’t want thier profits going to pay for damages/ fines.

  • georgepotts

    The government and utility attitude – if you don’t say anything about your problems, they don’t exist.

    When a tragedy occurs, the attitude becomes, we failed, so give us more money.

  • rich4321

    Every where in this country, all our infrastructures remain in the 19 century or older, 100 years behind the 21st century demand. Look at the poles every where, they are still putting power wires, telephone wires, cable wires like they did a hundred years ago.

    The utility companies rather spend our money to pay bonus to their CEOs then invest into the improvement.

    This all contributes to a slow decline of a nation.

  • onpoint080

    Loan guarantees? What about using some of the massive profits that these utilities companies make – for repair, clear and straightforward.

  • MarkVII88

    Gas companies make profit by expanding and advancing. They don’t make profit (or nearly as much) by re-investing into their old existing infrastructure. Again, it’s the money.

    • Don_B1

      Exactly!

      The increase in profit from fixing leaking pipelines in cities would only amount to $1 billion/year or a bit more, which they consider small potatoes.

  • J__o__h__n

    Obama said nothing unexpected. Do we need the WBUR summary and commentary? Go back to On Point now.

  • Will Gerard

    Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway own the majority of gas distribution infrastructure in the midwest and northeast. Warren is an insurance guy – i.e., a gambler. He will not spend money to repair or replace gas pipes unless he figures the cost to his insurance operations will be greater than the cost to his gas distribution operations.

    The gas companies must be made to pay for the gas lost to leaks.

    • Bluejay2fly

      What we needed is a partnership between government and private industry. The state should pay when construction or maintenance of the energy company exceeds profits. The same should be done when talking about disposal of toxic and hazardous materials. Instead companies move plants abroad, do not maintain existing facilities, and pollute. If todays worker and environmental standards were in place in at the beginning of the industrial revolution most factories would have not been able to stay in business. We should have had a national energy and industrial plan years ago.

    • Don_B1

      I have seen it reported that the natural gas distribution companies would make about $1 billion or more additional profit after the cost of fixing transmission pipes because of the additional gas they would have for sale.

      And they participate in the $4 billion of tax loopholes each year that goes to the fossil fuel industry at taxpayer expense already.

      Maybe if they had to pay $1000 to anyone who could measure a leak of a few cubic feet/year, up to once a year, that might give them an incentive to fix some infrastructure.

  • hennorama

    Here’s one example of how a utility will game the rate system, from David Cay Johnston:

    The average PG&E [Pacific Gas & Electric, which operates in northern and central California] pole has just nine years of useful life left, according to PG&E’s sworn testimony asking for more money to speed pole replacement. The utility got money through rate hikes to replace poles on a 50-year cycle, but it has been replacing them on a 346 to 778 year cycle while, by PG&E’s own testimony, diverting that money to other purposes.

    The life cycles of power poles are about as mundane as it gets, but that is exactly what PG&E and other corporate-owned utilities count on as they inflate profits by raising rates while deferring replacement of equipment, reducing maintenance and cutting staff.

    See more at:
    http://sfpublicpress.org/news/2012-11/how-the-profits-upkeep-commission-helps-pge-pick-your-pocket#sthash.8YM51PaF.dpuf

    • Bluejay2fly

      They cut corners because having a profitable company is more desirable then a stable and healthy one when looked at from a shareholder’s perspective.

      • notafeminista

        “Stable and healthy” also generally means turning a profit. Otherwise it’s bankruptcy. Not exactly “stable and healthy”.

        • Bluejay2fly

          I was using it to mean socially and economically responsible. So I guess you could say Scrooge’s business was stable and healthy just not to the cratchets.

          • notafeminista

            So now corporations are people? Can’t be socially responsible unless one is human.

            (edit added) Scrooge’s business was fine – supplied employment to Mr Cratchet and in turn allowed Mr. Cratchet to provide for his family. Scrooge himself, well. Mr. Scrooge was a Scrooge, hence the subsequent connotation of the name.

            You don’t give a fig about the business. You want to tell Mr. Scrooge how to run it.

          • Bluejay2fly

            They are staffed by humans and not robots so by definition they are a human institution. The fact that many corporations have a history of exploiting people and the environment for profit speaks to the fact that they are very human.

          • notafeminista

            Good enough. Citizens United stands then.

            (edit added) – I think “exploit” might be a bit strong. To continue the analogy, Mr. Cratchet was not forced to continue his employment with Mr. Scrooge. As I recall, as “Scrooge-y” as Mr. Scrooge was he neither beat Mr. Cratchet nor chained him to his desk.

          • Bluejay2fly

            In WW2 te situation was so dire that without the support of Chinese and Soviet communists we would have lost the war. Corporations like the aforementioned are evil but have to be worked with if we are to survive as a nation. The government and corporate America should be more forward thinking and work towards environmental sustainability and social stability versus growth. Obviously, that is not the case.

          • notafeminista

            Based on your previous statement, I believe what you mean to say that people are evil. People. Now I’m not sure if you mean only people affiliated with corporations, or people who don’t identify the same as you do ideologically or what precisely, but as you pointed out, businesses are populated by humans, thus making them (businesses) a human institution.
            It might be difficult to overcome apathy anywhere, whether in the US or elsewhere, when the populations you speak of are assured that they do not have to do anything for themselves.

          • jefe68

            You really don’t get what Dickens was on about in his tale A Christmas Carol, or so it would seem.

          • notafeminista

            Good for you.

          • jefe68

            Well, well, the real you comes out.
            And it’s not a pretty picture.

      • hennorama

        Bluejay2fly — some suggested editing, for clarity:

        “…having a [more] profitable company [in the short term] is more desirable [than] a stable and healthy one [over the long term] …

        • Bluejay2fly

          I was typing very quickly. However, to return the favor I shall give some advice to you. Instead of worrying about someones presentation perhaps you should focus more energy on thinking about ideas. I was a literature graduate and met a lot of empty headed, pompous, gramarians in my days.

          • hennorama

            Bluejay2fly — thank you for your response, and your suggestion.

            Purely out of curiosity, did the suggested edits more clearly communicate your point?

            Thanks again.

          • Bluejay2fly

            Yes, but your suggestion was out of place. This format is a fast moving chat board where people often do not write grammatically because thinking and responding are taxing enough as it is. You should not become one of those people who judge others by how they dress, how they speak, or necessarily how they write. I seriously doubt that any of this comes to you as a surprise. PS Aside from your editing skills what great ideas have you presented.

          • hennorama

            Bluejay2fly — thank you for your response. I appreciate your opinions and suggestions.

            My aim was not to negatively criticize you or your comment, but instead to suggest clarification of your ideas, with which I agree. Certainly no offense or judgment was intended, and my apologies if my suggestions offended you. Perhaps next time I’ll ask questions (e.g. “Did you mean “…having a [more] profitable company [in the short term] …?) rather than make suggestions.

            Not everyone uses a fast-moving, quick-hitting style, and many visitors to the On Point forum come into it after the live broadcast, largely negating the back-and-forth aspect of some comments.

            Thanks again for your response, and again, my apologies if I offended you.

    • DeJay79

      What the hell do they mean by 346 or 778 year cycle??

      none of the poles have been around for anywhere near 346 years. Do they mean that no pole has ever been replaced based on a replacement schedule?

      and if so why not just say that. what they hell is with the obscure number of meaningless years??

      • hennorama

        DeJay79 — converting the above to percentages:

        Rather than replacing 2.00 percent of their power poles each year (a 50-year cycle), PG&E was replacing only 0.13 to 0.29 percent each year (a 346 to 778 year cycle).

        Multiplying this by their approx. 2.2 million power poles, this means they were replacing 2,828 to 6,358 poles per year, rather than the 44,000 they were being paid for.

  • Eric Silva

    American infrastructure is crumbling because maintaining it is politically unpopular.

    Efforts to spend government dollars—on anything except defense—are decried as “big government.”

  • dawoada

    A neighbor’s grass kept turning yellow. The gas company kept coming out and patching the gas line. They said the PSC wouldn’t let them replace the line so leaks kept coming back. After five repairs, the PSC finally let them replace the line. End of problem. Cause of length of problem: PSC not gas company.

  • Bluejay2fly

    If anyone remembers the McDonalds hot coffee law suit.They lost because they knew the coffee was hot but decided that even if unsafe it is what the consumer wanted. They called it commuter coffee designed to stay hot all the way from the drive thru to your desk. This is how all decisions in corporations are made. It is a cost v benefit analysis and things such as safety and quality of the environment and life do not have much monetary value.

    • TFRX

      I thought that it was to be so hot it masked how mediocre the coffee was.

      I’m with you, but caution about asking people what they “remember” about the Hot Coffee lawsuit, because chances are it’s wrong.

      For one thing, the fantasy about it is too good to check out for the cause of tort reform.

      • Bluejay2fly

        When I was a child I used to love the fried pies. If you did not rip open the top and let it vent it was like hot lava.

  • Jay

    What is the President doing to correct the dire problem of America’s crumbling infrastructure? He cant be bothered with that, he’s to too busy supporting Al-Qaeda in Syria, neo-fascist thugs in Ukraine, and filling out his NCAA tournament bracket.
    Once again the President is A.W.O.L. (absent without leadership)

    • hennorama

      Jay — what nonsense (again).

      • Jay

        What is Obama doing to fix the problem of America’s crumbling infrastructure?

        • tbphkm33

          What did the imposter “President” GW do? What are the Nopublican’s in Congress doing other than saying NO???

          • Jay

            Your problem is that you only look back to the past, Obama is the President now, and he isn’t doing any constructive.

          • lobstahbisque

            He isn’t doing any constructive what? Although it is a run on sentence, it’s also incomplete. Bravo.

          • Jay

            One thing that is complete, is the miserable Obama ‘Presidency’. It’s a complete failure, unless you consider Obama’s support of Al-Qaeda in Syria, and his support of neo-fascist thugs in Ukraine to be a victory.

          • tbphkm33

            Jay – the only complete failure I’m seeing here today is your attempts at making any valid points.

          • Jay

            Keep ignoring facts tb, but the Obama Administration has admitted to supporting al-Qaeda in Syria, as well as neo-fascist thugs in the Ukraine. Those are valid and documented facts, but when do rabid Obama supporters like yourself ever concern yourself with the facts?

          • jefe68

            You think you’re dealing with facts?
            That’s hilarious.

          • jefe68

            It’s clear that your part of the right wing meme clown squad.

          • Jay

            Obama needs useful idiots like you to keep ‘swallowing’ all his lies. Happy swallowing fool.

          • jefe68

            For your information oh inane one, I’m not a huge supporter of Obama, never was.

        • hennorama

          Jay — thank you for your inquiry.

          Perhaps you missed it, but Pres. Obama has made several infrastructure-related proposals over the years, and his newest budget includes a [near] doubling of infrastructure spending. Per bloomberg.com:

          “President Barack Obama would almost double spending on the U.S. infrastructure over the next six years and would pour $350 billion into a jobs plan while reducing the budgets of most other domestic agencies.”

          See:
          http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-13/infrastructure-funds-would-double-in-obama-s-plan-while-agency-budgets-cut.html

          • Jay

            It seems that you conveniently forgot about Obama’s stimulus bill of 2009 that was supposed to put Americans back to work, it was a predictable failure.

          • hennorama

            Jay — TYFYR.

            Please allow a quote of your words, from below:

            “Your problem is that you only look back to the past …”

            As previously stated, contrary to the idiom, ignorance is not bliss. Your comment implies that you would disagree.

          • Jay

            Budget Office: Obama’s $800 billion Stimulus Failed on Jobs

            http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/obama-stimulus-fewer-jobs/2011/11/23/id/419003/

          • hennorama

            Jay — TYFYR.

            Paraphrasing Mark Twain and [jefe68] below:

            “Never argue with [some] people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

            That you fail to differentiate between past and present is curious, especially given your own words having been quoted back to you.

            Any progress on your research into the Greater Fool Theory yet?

          • jefe68

            And yet there is plenty of evidence to debunk your claim.

            Studies of the stimulus by the International Monetary Fund and the Congressional Budget Office have come up with figures not dissimilar from those in the latest White House study. In an important paper published last year, the I.M.F., which was long skeptical about Keynesian policies, conceded that they work pretty well in the sort of environment we’ve experienced in recent years, with low interest rates and a weakened financial sector.

            Source: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2014/02/obamas-unpopular-stimulus-wont-be-the-last.html

            Or:

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/post/did-the-stimulus-work-a-review-of-the-nine-best-studies-on-the-subject/2011/08/16/gIQAThbibJ_blog.html

          • Jay

            Budget Office: Obama’s $800 billion Stimulus Failed on Jobs

            http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/obama-stimulus-fewer-jobs/2011/11/23/id/419003/

          • jefe68

            And yet I posted a links that say the stimulus helped to stem the downturn into what could have been a depression.

            Did it create enough jobs? Not as many as was needed. Did it stop the hemorrhaging of the economy, yes.

            We could have spent more on infrastructure and should. It’s clear that every aspect of our infrastructure from rail lines to gas pipelines are in need of a huge upgrade. Doing nothing is not an option when there are miles of gas and water lines have been in use since Grover Cleveland was president.

          • nj_v2

            Newsmax! Hahahahahahaha!

          • TFRX

            “If this is anybody but Steve Allen, you’re stealing my bit!”

            (h/t Krusty the Clown)

    • jimino

      Aren’t those who profit from it by utilizing it in their business going to “build it”?

      • notafeminista

        Probably depends on whom you ask.

    • dfg

      He pushed, hard, to get a stim bil passed which did infrastructure work. It would have done more if the GOP hadn’t forced a compromise for a smaller sum that gave more tax cuts to the rich. He’s been ridiculed and lambasted by his political opponents ever since with jabs that the entire stim bill was a complete waste (which is ridiculously false).

      He pushed for high speed rail. And again, he was attacked from the right who said these things need to be left to the private sector, that government only screws things up.

      He pushed for tax hikes on the uber-rich to get the $$ needed for infrastructure. Instead, the GOP handed him a sequester. Not only is there no new money for new infrastructure work, there’s even less for simple maintenance.

      The ideological difference between the President and his political opposition is that his opposition feels that there is no room for government in anything. Zero taxes, zero government. How did Norquist put it? “Shrink government to a point where you can drown it in a bath tub” ? How do you expect government, Obama included, to do anything for you while you’re strangling it?

      • Arkuy The Great

        When ARRA passed there were several workzones set up near me. The fancy signs stayed up for years but very little visible work was actually done. I would love to see a full accounting where the money actually ended up.

      • jefe68

        Notice how the private sector is really going all out building that infrastructure. High speed rail? We can’t even get a train to go 100 mph on the New York to Washington run. The bottom line is the right wing meme of let the private sector take care of it nothing short of hot air. Corporations have been sitting huge piles of money and some are using this to buy back their stock. Do you see them investing in infrastructure? Nope.
        And we never will. The GOP is the party of no taxes, and no ideas. That said the Democrats are also to blame for our failing infrastructure as they are part and parcel of the plutocracy that we now live in.

    • Peter Lorenzoni

      Where have you been Jay?

      • Jay

        Hey Pete, how could Obama spend $7 trillion in just five years, and have so little to show for it?

        • Peter Lorenzoni

          …into a big sinkhole!

  • notafeminista

    I remember reading something similar…residents along a coastal beach community were forced to remove all exterior lighting because it was believed the lights somehow altered sea turtles’ mating and subsequent hatching ability. So they did in the interest of facilitating the sea turtles’ reproduction. There’s also been much debate about the color of the lights and whether high pressure sodium lights are more or less desirable than low pressure sodium lights.
    Turns out sea turtles are attracted by the moon.

    • jimino

      And artificial lighting that they mistake for moonlight. That, of course, is the obvious (one would think) reason for justifiable concern about that lighting.

      • notafeminista

        That was the point you apparently missed. To clarify and as an update – Florida imposes a $250 fine for residents along the coast who don’t turn off their exterior lighting (feminists and parents have failed to remark upon the increased security risks dark neighborhoods might present) – but as it is the turtles are attracted to the moonlight regardless. On whom shall we impose that fine,jimino?

        • jimino

          “feminists and parents have failed to remark upon the increased security risks dark neighborhoods might present”

          I suppose they need someone like to tell them how to think.

          And it’s the artificial light that attracts turtles AWAY FROM where the moon would naturally attract the animals (the ocean) that is at issue. You really can’t be this unable to process facts, can you?

          • notafeminista

            Well that’s the beauty of it. As evidenced by Hen’s remarks and my own, the bottom line is no one really knows. Either the turtles are attracted by the moon or they’re not – or they’re distracted by high pressure sodium lights or they’re not..or they’re distracted by low pressure sodium lights or they’re not. No one knows – but by gum let’s levy a fine on people until we can figure it out, right?
            I doubt either that feminists and/or parents need anyone to tell them how to think, however it seems a reasonable assumption that darkened neighborhoods previously lit might present some safety hazards to children and/or women operating outdoors after dark. I fully accept I may be mistaken in that assumption.
            Thanks Hen, for supporting my point – input is always welcome.

        • hennorama

          notafeminista — TY for bringing up the interesting topic of sea turtle hatchlings’ instinctive attraction to light.

          Two points:

          Mentioning only moonlight vs. artificial lighting is misleading at best. Per the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s “Sea Turtle FAQ” page:

          Do hatchlings need a full moon to find the ocean after they emerge from their nests?

          This is a myth. Hatchlings emerge from their nests at all phases of the moon and successfully find the ocean.

          How do hatchlings know the direction of the ocean when they emerge from their nests?

          Sea turtles are born with the instinct to move toward the brightest direction. On a natural beach, this direction is the light of the open horizon.

          See:
          http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/fl-sea-turtles/faq/

          There are simple alternatives, such as low-duration motion detector switches, that allow for human nighttime security concerns, versus switching off all exterior lighting.

          BTW, do you have any source for the claim that “Florida imposes a $250 fine for residents along the coast who don’t turn off their exterior lighting”? A “citation citation,” as it were.

  • tbphkm33

    Ah, the crumbling infrastructure of the Homeland in an increasingly crumbling Empire. Crony capitalism brings so many gifts to the American people. Yet another sign that the USA is today the richest Second World country, with festering pockets where socioeconomic data indicates Third World status.

  • tbphkm33

    Sure, you could do that… but the 15% would just be passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. Overall, such a move does nothing to alleviate the US obsession with cheap and, mostly, low quality Chinese goods.

  • Jay

    According to http://www.usdebtclock.org/, Obama has added $7 trillion to the national debt since 2009! I don’t know where Obama spent the $7 trillion, but it sure wasn’t on infrastructure.

    • tbphkm33

      WARNING: The above post is a prime example of what happens to Nopublicans/TeaBaggers when they over dose on Fox “News” propaganda. Asked if he wanted some Kool-Aid, Jay drank the whole pitcher.

      • Jay

        http://www.usdebtclock.org/2008.html
        is Fox News??!
        tb, you are in some serious denial.

      • tbphkm33

        Oh, sorry, I know, we are not supposed to respond to the Trolls.

        • Jay

          Just answer the question tb, where did Obama spend the $7 trillion?

    • jimino

      Congress spent the money then refused to collect sufficient taxes to pay the bill. Do you really not know how this works?

      • Jay

        The President must annually submit a budget to Congress for approval. That $7 trillion Obama added to federal debt, is all due to his fiscal irresponsibility.

    • John Cedar

      I know that a few billion of it went to NY state so that baby Cuomo could make it look like he could balance a budget but not have to make any tough decisions. When that money was spent the next thing he did was raid the public pension and called it “pension smoothing”. The MSN repeated that misnomer without missing a beat.

      • Jay

        At least Cuomo has NO chance of ever being President, so there’s some good news.

        • harverdphd

          Care to share some winning lottery numbers with us?

    • hennorama

      Jay — OK, I’ll bite.

      The “I don’t know …” portion of your comment implies a lack of curiosity, and one doubts that you actually want to know “…where Obama spent the $7 trillion…”

      Despite the lack of seriousness and the surfeit of cluelessness in your post, some comments:

      First, the increased deficit is due to both increased Federal Spending (FS) and decreased Federal Revenue.

      Next, your claim that “Obama has added $7 trillion to the national debt since 2009!” is inaccurate, simplistic and misleading to the point of meaninglessness. (For example, “since 2009!” implies after 2009.)

      Without putting words onto your fingers, it’s likely that you actually meant “since [the day he took office] in 2009!”

      Third, let’s look at some information from Fiscal Years 2008 through 2012, compared to FY 2007 levels (the last pre-Great Recession FY):

      (The following uses FY 2007 Federal Spending of $2.7287 Trillion as a baseline. All figures are in nominal dollars, excluding the impact of inflation.)

      Federal Revenue has fallen a cumulative $1.2762 Trillion during FYs 2008 through 2012.

      Net New Spending (NNS) in the 5 year period was $3.7116 Trillion. 95% of the spending increase went to 5 broad Categories:

      1. DEFENSE added $888.5 Billion, 23.9% of NNS.
      Military Defense spending increased by $636.1 B, and Veterans spending was up $184.4 B, together making up over 92% of the Category increase.

      2. WELFARE was up $854.0 Billion, 23.0% of NNS. This is Food and nutrition assistance, Unemployment compensation, Retirement and disability insurance (excluding social security), Housing assistance, and Other income security. Unemployment ($382.0 B), Food and nutrition ($179.1 B), and Housing ($66.7 B) accounted for about three quarters of the increase.

      3. HEALTH CARE added $751.8 Billion, 20.3% of NNS. Medicare accounted for 49% of the increase. This is a result of demographics and higher costs for health care. Payment to vendors, mostly to the states for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs, were also about 49% of the increase. A good chunk of this is related to the Great Recession.

      4. PENSIONS increased $593.6 Billion, 16.0% of NNS. 99% of this is from Social Security. This is principally due to demographics, with Baby Boomers starting to retire en masse. However, part of this increase is due to a larger percentage of those age 62 and older who began taking benefits. In other words, a significantly higher than normal percentage of people opted for “early” SS benefits.

      5. OTHER SPENDING added $447.0 Billion, 12.0% of NNS. This catchall Category includes several items that are “NEC” – Not Elsewhere Categorized. A large part of this is Stimulus-related, and the net increase accounts for repayment of some Stimulus items. This is a highly variable Category, with Spending ranging from $71 B in FY 2007 to $377.1 B in FY 2009, at the peak of the Stimulus.

      For sources and more, see:

      http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/01/04/week-in-the-news-cliff-deal-sandy-relief-hillarys-health#comment-757928646

      http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/02/15/week-in-the-news-232#comment-800545278

      Finally, a significant portion of what you described as “Obama [having] added $7 trillion to the national debt since 2009!” is for FY 2009, which spanned the time period of Oct. 1, 2008 through Sept. 30, 2009. It’s therefore misleading to attribute the entirety of the additional debt to President Obama’s administration, as he was not President at the beginning of FY 2009.

      For further perspective, here’s an excerpt from the Cato Institute, published on Nov. 19, 2009, and titled “Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit”:

      “The 2009 fiscal year began October 1, 2008, nearly four months before Obama took office. The budget for the entire fiscal year was largely set in place while Bush was in the White House. So [as] we update the chart to show the Bush fiscal years in green, we can see that Obama is partly right in claiming that he inherited a mess (though Obama actually deserves a small share of the blame for Bush’s last deficit since earlier this year he pushed through both an “omnibus” spending bill and the so-called stimulus bill that increased FY2009 spending).”

      See:
      http://www.cato.org/blog/dont-blame-obama-bushs-2009-deficit

      And more recently, from that bastion of liberalism (tongue firmly in cheek) the Ludwig von Mises Institute, an excerpt of an article titled “Bush’s Huge Budget Numbers Blamed on Obama” published March 21, 2011:

      “The Budget Process and Presidential Terms

      “The federal fiscal year lasts from October 1 to September 30 (It ended on June 30 prior to 1976). So, the 2009 fiscal year ended in September of 2009, eight months after Bush left office. When Obama was sworn into office, Bush had already submitted his 3.1 trillion dollar 2009 budget almost a year earlier. He then signed the stack of resulting appropriations bills submitted to him by Congress throughout 2008 which authorized the federal spending that would take place once the 2009 FY actually began in October. Then, in the fall of 2008, Bush supported and signed additional spending bills providing for various bailouts and stimulus programs that marked the end of his presidency, and which would show up as spending in 2009. Needless to say, the already-enormous 2009 budget that Bush had submitted in early 2008 was not totally reflective of the full impact of the huge spending increases that would eventually be authorized by Bush. Bush’s original budget was $3.1 trillion, but once one adds in all the bailouts and stimulus spending also supported by Bush, the number is actually much larger, and this is the number that shows up in the spending figures now being attributed to Obama for FY2009.

      “This framework for calculating presidential spending should be applied generally to all presidential terms of office. It would be inaccurate and dishonest to attribute most 2001 federal spending to Bush, just as it would be wrong to attribute most 1993 spending to Clinton. Presidents can and do add to the budgets passed by their predecessors by signing supplemental appropriations bills early in their terms, but this can only account for a small portion of total spending that might occur during a president’s first year in office.

      “The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, for example, was signed by Obama six months before the end of the fiscal year, and coming in at less than half a trillion dollars, this spending was only a fraction of the 3.5 trillion or so in spending already signed into law by Bush earlier that fiscal year.

      “It is also important to note that just because spending is authorized in a certain fiscal year doesn’t mean it’s actually spent in that same year. This is especially true when we’re talking about new stimulus programs and discretionary spending. In all likelihood, only a portion of the money authorized in the spending bills signed by Obama in 2009 would actually show up as spending that occurred before September 30.”

      See:
      http://archive.mises.org/16107/bushs-huge-budget-numbers-blamed-on-obama/

      • Jay

        You forgot to cite the $5 billion Obama spent in Ukraine to help neo-fascists overthrow the legitimate, democratically elected govt. there. Add that to the $7 trillion Obama added to the national debt.

        • hennorama

          Jay — thank you for yet another parroted and unresponsive response.

        • hennorama

          Jay — please allow me to paraphrase your own words, from below:

          “Don’t you have anything better to do than make [up nonsense in order to attack President] Obama 24/7? You need to wake up to reality.”

          FYI, here’s the relevant portion of what Victoria Nuland said at the Washington Press Club on Dec. 13, 2013 (emphasis added):

          Since the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States has supported Ukrainians as they build democratic skills and institutions, as they promote civic participation and good governance, all of which are preconditions for Ukraine to achieve its European aspirations. We’ve invested over 5 billion dollars to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.”

          Source: (clip is set to begin at the relevant part)
          http://youtu.be/2y0y-JUsPTU?t=7m25s

      • TFRX

        It’s called a Cavuto Mark–where someone’s pretending to ask, but in a manner indicating that they’re really telling.

  • Peter Lorenzoni

    This should come as no surprise to people that have lived in other industrialized countries that value infrastructure and the PUBLIC REALM. Americans, especially of late, demonize anything public. There is a move to eliminate it altogether. We forget how much of this wealthy nation was built on the back of a public infrastructure. Well, Americans love it cheap and now you have what you paid for. Is it any wonder that Walmart rules. Its in our culture. Just plop the little yellow google man on any street in Germany and compare it to any street in the US. Have you noticed that there very few American companies that make any good trains or buses. We have relinquished that export item! An iphone won’t make a country run.

    • notafeminista

      Yes, making the trains run on time is very important.

      • jimino

        Only if you can securitize it and rake some cash off it.

        • notafeminista

          All the better to pay for that “free” public education.

      • Peter Lorenzoni

        Yes. That would be important too.

  • Peter Lorenzoni

    Another point. We love living spread out in the US. That has a huge cost. It means a spread out infrastructure. Density is efficient especially for infrastructure. We are spread out and SPREAD THIN!!

    • jimino

      I live in a state that is primarily rural and very sparsely populated. The people who live in those areas will vote overwhelmingly Republican, and the more tea party the better, ignorant of the fact that their roads, infrastructure, indeed, their very agricultural businesses, would be impossible if they weren’t so heavily subsidized by other taxpayers. It’s expensive for the rest of us for them to live as rugged individualists.

      • notafeminista

        Ah, it’s the fault of the stupid backcountry hick Republicans. Probably bitterly clinging to their guns and Bibles no doubt.

        • jimino

          Guns for sure. Can’t say about Bibles. But I’m more concerned with having to support their lifestyle with my tax dollars. Even our US Senator, from just such an area, gets a greater amount in federal grazing benefits, every year, than the payments a typical welfare recipient would receive in 25 years.

          Do you dispute what I said about that?

          • notafeminista

            I dispute your entire comment. I suspect you are not at all bothered by the subsidization – as the only group the Left does not want to give money to is the military. I suspect you are more offended by the fact that your agricultural neighbors are not what you feel to be properly grateful for the largesse given to them. If your neighbors voted Democrat, you’d be fine.

          • jimino

            And I thought you were a fiscal conservative. I see I was wrong.

            I’m just for giving people what they say they want. I call it taking responsibility.

          • notafeminista

            I don’t hear you disagreeing with me.
            You want the farmers to take responsibility but not welfare recepients? When do you stop making excuses exactly?

          • jefe68

            The BS meter keeps on rising with every comment you post.

  • John Cedar

    Todd Akin was an engineer ;-)

    When I was a kid I used to work with a lot of engineers. A lot of them were not as bright as you would expect. A lot of them were socially retarded. Very few of them could see the big picture beyond their chosen interests.

  • hennorama

    For what a dailykos.com contributor characterized as,

    “One Photo which says everything about the backwardness of the US transportation system versus a growing number of countries.

    “Chinese bullet trains in yard:”

    See:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/03/08/1283178/-One-Photo-which-says-everything

  • John Cedar

    Capital gains tax went to 20% a while ago. Add in Obamacaid and it is now at 23.8% add in state tax too.

    Just saw a special on Johnny Carson the other night. One picture showed him in his yacht and the name of the yacht was “deductible”.

    I know that you dkos types don’t like to be bothered by facts, but Reagan made it much harder to deduct your yacht from your income. Meaning that old tax rates are next to meaningless when comparing them to today’s.

    • Human2013

      Prior to 2013, the highest long-term capital-gains tax rate was 15%. Now, there’s a new 20% tax rate. It applies to your capital gains if you’re in the new 39.6% income tax bracket. In other words, you may be taxed at a higher rate if your 2014 taxable income is more than $406,750 ($457,600 if you file jointly, $432,200 if head of household, or $228,800 if married filing separately).
      Can you handle the facts

      Read more: http://www.nasdaq.com/article/5-myths-about-capitalgains-tax-in-2014-cm328890#ixzz2wKbQWXO

      • John Cedar

        You forgot to include the 3.8% Obamacaid tax there.
        The 23.8 percent tax on capital gains has little to do with the 39.6% + 0.9% Obamcaid tax rates that apply to earned income above a certain threshold.

        But the big 800# gorilla on the back of the white elephant in the room, is the fact that if Johnny Carson were alive today, he could not deduct his yacht from his income tax but when Nixon was president he could easily do so.

        BTW…the democrats controlled all three houses for the first two years of the Obama catastrophe. Rather than adjust the capital gains tax, the upper house the lower house and the White House all spent that political capital on passing a trillion dollar scamulus and destroying our healthcare system even worse than it already was.

        • Human2013

          Sad to hear you don’t think your fellow Americans should have acces to health care like the rest of the CIVILIZED world

  • embo66

    The U.S. is becoming a global embarrassment with its crumbling infrastructure. Europeans and Asians who travel say our airports are like those found in only the poorest countries — cramped, stinky, falling apart. The U.S. used to lead the world with our ambitious, giant-scaled infrastructure projects like the trans-continental railroad and the interstate highway system.

    According to the Economist, “But modern America is stingier. Total public spending on transport and water infrastructure has fallen steadily since the 1960s and now stands at 2.4% of GDP. Europe, by contrast, invests 5% of GDP in its infrastructure, while China is racing into the future at 9%. America’s spending as a share of GDP has not come close to European levels for over 50 years. Over that time funds for both capital investments and operations and maintenance have steadily dropped . . . Even road maintenance gets more attention from Europeans than in America.”

    http://www.economist.com/node/18620944

    • notafeminista

      Well now wait a minute – I thought former President Bush already ensure the US was a global embarrassment, no?
      C’mon folks make up your minds.

      • embo66

        Touche.
        But those GOP the hits just keep on comin’.

        • jefe68

          I hope you realize she’s being obnoxious.

          • TFRX

            Yeah, sometimes the internets scrub off those verbal and body-language cues.

          • embo66

            I did realize. But there’s no harm in acknowledging a decent riposte. Besides, was my subsequent comment too subtle for you?

      • Peter Lorenzoni

        Well, actually it’s both….throw in the extra large people at Walmart .

      • John Cedar

        No one can embarrass anyone, without their consent.

  • AC
  • J ped

    I don’t think Duke Energy has paid taxes in years! Where is that money? Why would the government need to give them more money to fix infrastructure!

    • Jay

      I used to live in the People’s Republic of N.C., those were some of the highest, if not the highest energy rates I’ve ever paid.

  • J ped

    “Duke Energy had a tax rate of a negative 3.5 percent which means they actually got refunds back from the IRS,” pointed out Rebecca Wilkins with Citizens for Tax Justice.
    Duke Energy has made more than $9 billion in profits since 2008, according to the report.
    From Charlotte Observer

    • hennorama

      J ped — it’s also highly likely that calculations for the payment of taxes on projected profits were built into the regulated rates Duke Energy charges in the various locations it serves. It would seem appropriate that if this is this case, and such taxes were not paid, regulators should push for refunds to ratepayers.

      Please note that I do not have specific information to cite on this particular utility company.

    • OnPointComments

      I bet Rebecca Wilkins didn’t identify any tax laws that were broken by Duke Energy. The tax laws are passed by Congress, not Duke Energy.

  • kaybee63

    Plastic does degrade, but most of that is caused by UV light which would not be the case underground.

  • Adam English

    We live in a time when return on investment means a lot in government and business. Unfortunately, infrastructure almost never has a pay off within the 4 year election cycle or CEO contract cycle. How can we incentivize meaningful investment in this climate?

  • andic_epipedon

    At this point, might we use creativity to implement alternative energy when considering the cost of infrastructure maintenance on gas lines?

    Just a thought.

  • Arkuy The Great

    The shipping charges for those goods involves port intermodal service charges, permit fees for trucks and trains as well as sales taxes at the point of retail. Plenty of the “cost”, such as it is, gets captured.

  • Arkuy The Great

    I received a breathless sounding mailing recently from a well known environmental action group recently. The gist of the communication was the looming crisis of excessive methane releases from pipelines. The implication, given the wording of the letter, was that the releases were due to improperly regulated fracking in shale gas fields and that greater government oversight was a must. Now we see that the problem is less with hydraulic fracturing and wellhead seals but with existing distribution pipes in and near cities and towns. New production is not nearly in need of as much oversight as existing infrastructure that is overdue for overhaul. That puts a different spin on where the priorities of our major environmental lobby organizations should be.

  • jefe68

    Some of the anti-tax ideology you are on about is a result of libertarianism. It’s an absurd construct which somehow thinks that roads, bridges, railway lines, airports, electrical grids and natural gas lines are built through some kind of magic.

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