Lambert’s Lagniappe – June 2009

A few weeks ago I was asked to do a short presentation on Green Transportation at Southern Mississippi. (The presentation is available at http://www.ittsresearch. org/ITTS-Presentations.html). The presentation consisted of a very broad overview of logistics, economic development and the environment, which generated a lively debate.In discussing economic development, we are really talking about people development.

I agree with Thomas Friedman in “Hot Flat and Crowded” that we need to reinvest in the creation of energy here in the United States. The recent edition of Good Magazine was dedicated to transportation,
but while it discussed jet packs and electric cars, it did not discuss freight transportation. There remains a disconnect when we discuss freight transportation and the environment. On the negative side, the
debate on emissions, the detrimental effects of development/traffic (congestion) or the simple fact that we don’t live as we once did. In response, the real discussion that freight is critical to our standard of living evolves into simply discussions about more efficient engines for trucks, rail and barges.

This extends further to modal comparisons about tons moved per mile or emissions per mile (as highlighted by the Texas Transportation Institute Study for Marad. All of these discussions are important, both as we determine a long term strategy and short term steps to move towards a freight and mobility vision (as evidenced by yet another national report calling for an increased focus on transportation reform – The National Transportation Policy Project).

This weekend, I was struck by the irony of the timing of the presentation with its proximity to Fathers’ Day. When discussing the future of transportation, our children will face increased challenges on energy use and the environment. At the same time, we are discussing how to enhance America’s competitive position in world markets. Their future success will be shaped by our actions today, just as the legacy decisions of our fathers continue to shape our world. When considering how we choose to live, we must include all modes of transportation, including freight, that supports America’s long term growth.

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