Lame-Duck Obama Admin Rejects CA High-Speed Rail $15 Billion Loan

Brown at High-Speed Rail Groundbreaking (AP)
AP / Gary Kazanjian

The California High-Speed Rail Authority came up empty when it asked the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama for a $15 billion loan, the Los Angeles Times reports.

State officials feared that with Republican Donald J. Trump taking office — somewhat unexpectedly — in January, and perhaps cutting off funding to the struggling project, which has never had a clear idea of how it would be financed, they would appeal to the Obama administration for a financial break.

The Times notes:

With the Obama administration on its way out, it seemed like a good time to nail down more long-term federal support on the assumption that Hillary Clinton would be the next president.

So the state set up a meeting to ask the U.S. Department of Transportation to publicly announce a federal loan of up to $15 billion that would help build an initial rail segment from San Jose to Shafter, northwest of Bakersfield, which would cement federal support during the transition to a new presidential administration.

Such a loan — even the commitment for one — would also show potential private investors that the project was “creditworthy,” according to a briefing document for the meeting.

But federal officials did not go along with the state’s suggestion. “At this time, California has not submitted a financing request,” said Clark Pettig, press secretary for the Transportation Department.

The failure of the last-ditch effort leaves the project’s future in doubt.

Ironically, the Trump transition team has been talking about making large capital investments in infrastructure, to the tune of some $1 trillion nationwide.

However, the incoming Trump administration plans to use private capital where possible — something California’s high-speed rail had trouble attracting. And it intends to aim investment where it would actually be economically feasible.

For high-speed rail in California, that might mean a train from Los Angeles to Las Vegas — not from the Bay Area to L.A.

At any rate, with Trump’s victory, the proposal so beloved by Gov. Jerry Brown — touted as something of an answer to climate change, rather than a giant “green elephant” — looks to be a rail to nowhere.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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