We’re talking trains again today, only this time the location in question is Texas, where there seems to be some enthusiasm surrounding the idea of railway infrastructure. Schenkel’s Earth Matters blog mentions the governor, Rick Perry, and Democratic Representative, Henry Cuellar, as specific supporters, but he also talks about the $5.6 million federally funded study aimed at assessing the feasibility of and options for a high-speed rail line linking Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Oklahoma City (Houston, by the way, is very hurt by the snub).
With three of the ten most populous cities in the country, and vast expanses of land between them, Texas should be a prime candidate for train transport. However, the fact that it is also one of the biggest oil producers in the country means that there are many influential people in Texas who have vested interest in keeping people in their cars. Bill White, a Democrat who ran against Rick Perry in this month’s election, says that a plan the governor put forth for railways running in a corridor through the state, as opposed to directly from city to city, is so crazy that it actually seems designed to promote more car travel.
I can understand this afternoon how following one author’s blog could be a very satisfying experience. While my initial reaction to Schenkel’s link back to his last post about rail transport was a roll of the eyes at what felt like self-promotion, I realized that I know more about this issue now than I did, and what I read in Earth Matters in Thursday gave me a context in which to read today’s story about Texas. How convenient that Schenkel has saved me the trouble of sifting through the web and let me know the important parts.
It is not reasonable to expect that one blogger will review and condense even most of the available material on a topic, or that he or she will present an unbiased report of the facts, and I worry that many readers do not keep those facets of the medium in mind when reading and quoting. That said, as long as we can remain skeptical – which is, after all, a requirement for all media consumption – blogs such as Earth Matters can be a very useful tool for those wishing to broaden their awareness of issues and increase the breadth of their knowledge.
There are only so many hours in a day and, interesting though it is, I won’t be spending mine reading six articles on federal funding for railway infrastructure. Would I spend 10 minutes looking through one post and a few links on the subject, though? Well, time will tell, but I’m glad to have the option.