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Barack Obama

Obama’s Energy Platform Has a (Small) Livable Cities Plank

11:29 AM EDT on August 7, 2008

When Barack Obama gave his big energy speech on Monday, his campaign released an eight-page fact sheet [PDF] to go with it. All the way at the end, at the very bottom of the last page -- after the parts about plug-in electric vehicles, oil shale, and clean coal technology -- there's this paragraph:

Build More Livable and Sustainable Communities:Over the long term, we know that the amount of fuel we will use is directly related to our land use decisions and development patterns. For the last 100 years, our communities have been organized around the principle of cheap gasoline. Barack Obama believes that we must devote substantial resources to repairing our roads andbridges. He also believes that we must devote significantly more attention to investments that willmake it easier for us to walk, bicycle and access other transportation alternatives. Obama iscommitted to reforming the federal transportation funding and leveling employer incentives for driving and public transit.

It's something, but not exactly a compelling pitch (not to mention that the "roads and bridges" bit reads like a sop to the highway lobby).

On the stump, meanwhile, the candidate continues to make an engaging case for high-speed rail, especially in the midwest. Air travel, apparently, is not much of a sacred cow compared to driving and big lawns. Via Trains for America, here's an excerpt from a recent speech Obama delivered in Ohio:

"If you think about the Midwest, think about right here, what we've got is all kind of towns that we could connect," Obama said. "All of these cities are, they basically take in the air about 45 minutes to an hour to fly."

"But by the time you get to the airport," Obama continued, "take off your shoes, get to the terminal, realize that your flight's been delayed two hours, go pay $10 for a cup of coffee, and a sandwich for another $10, come back, you get on the plane, you're sitting on the tarmac for another 25 minutes, you finally take off, you're circling above the city for another half hour, when you land they can't find your luggage, and then you get to where you're going -- by the time it's all done it's a five-hour trip! …So the time is right now for us to start thinking about high-speed rail as an alternative to air transportation, connecting all these cities and think about what a great project that would be in terms of rebuilding America."

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