Thumbs down to yet another delay for Chicago-to-Moline passenger rail. Earlier this week, an Illinois official told us the state is making plans to ask for yet another extension to complete the passenger rail connection. If that happens, it will be the second consecutive year that Illinois has asked for more time.
Last fall, the Federal Railroad Administration granted Illinois' request to extend the federal funding through the end of September. At the time, the state said it also would submit a detailed schedule to the federal government.
It’s funny and a little bit sad to read our coverage over the past decade, watching the community’s hopes rise and fall with each delay. Headlines in 2010 announce the application for federal funds — $248 million, with $45 million in matching funds from the state of Illinois. We got a promise of $177 million that same year. Then we waited. At one point, Illinois officials had said the service could begin in 2013. But that didn’t happen. A headline in 2013 reads, “Station could beat passenger rail to Moline.” It did. Work on the rail, negotiations, state budget issues piled up like calendar pages.
We were awarded the federal funding during the Obama administration, and now we’re into a new administration, which is rethinking the way infrastructure projects are funded.
We’re not sure what’s next for passenger rail, but we know a station is waiting and hotels and developments are planned around a dream that is moving toward a decade in the making.
Thumbs up to a chance for Iowans to voice their opinions on the Environmental Protection Agency proposal to reduce the amount of renewable fuels, including corn-based ethanol, in the nation’s fuel system in 2018. The amount for 2018 is set at 4.24 billion gallons, down from 4.28 billion gallons this year. The proposal is preliminary. Iowa leadership and lawmakers varied in their response, calling the target by turns a campaign promise kept or a campaign promise broken.
Trump consistently promised his support for ethanol during stops in Iowa. A poll in January from the pro-ethanol group Growth Energy, said 83 percent of Trump voters think it’s important that American-made biofuels continue to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply.
In May, during a stop in Nevada, Iowa, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told a crowd, “You have nothing to worry about” regarding the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard. That day he was wearing a “Don’t Mess with the RFS” pin.
If you have an opinion on this issue, it’s especially important to speak up — either way — as this is the first time the Trump administration has weighed in on targets for renewable fuels. Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0091, at regulations.gov. Then follow the instructions.
Thumbs up to those who volunteer their time and energy as school board members. This coming election, almost 50 years of experience will retire off of school boards in Davenport, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley and North Scott. And they won’t easily be replaced. It’s difficult to find people willing to volunteer for four-year terms in unpaid positions, where they will have to sort through thinning budgets and fight through the occasional controversy. That said, it’s a great place for someone seeking their first public office to learn the ropes, and there’s no denying that the work of ensuring a quality education is available to our children is one of the most important roles within our government.
If you’ve ever considered running, now is the time. Those interested can take out papers now with a deadline to get them returned by 5 p.m. Aug. 3. Pick up your paperwork from the secretary in your school district. School board elections are Tuesday, Sept. 12.