Would Building Speed-Limit-Free Highway Lanes Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

Now that Gov. Gavin Newsom has killed off plans for a high-speed train line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, one California legislator has a new idea for making the state’s transportation system greener: expand the highways.

Last week, state Sen. John Moorlach (R–Costa Mesa) introduced a bill that would add two speed-limit-free lanes to Interstate 5 and Route 99, which both run north-south through much of the state.

To fund the construction, Moorlach’s bill would draw on money generated by the sale of carbon emission credits from the state’s cap-and-trade system. Some $1.6 billion of that money has been spent to date on the state’s high-speed rail line, which under Newsom’s scaled-back version will run from Merced to Bakersfield. Current law mandates that 25 percent of this cap-and-trade revenue be spent on high-speed rail.