Dear friends, current and potential just transition allies.
The possibility that electrification of freight rail is being considered in the 116th Congress  is exciting news. I am adding a number of folks to this email thread (via BCC for this round – listed at the bottom of this email)
If rail electrification is truly on the agenda, I believe it is absolutely essential and urgent that its advocates and those potentially impacted understand a few of the not immediately obvious things we’ve learned in the last few years.  [I will assume that all those receiving this have viewed the 3 minute intro video here.] 
If you and your organization is interested in participating in a Solutionary Rail Stakeholder Strategy Conference/Symposium or joint briefing, PLEASE  do reply to this email.
Lessons Learned and Strategic Opportunities:
Rail Electrification WITHOUT shifting of the current railroad service/business model is only minimally impactful. Rail’s contribution to carbon pollution is a small fraction of that of trucks. The biggest climate, public health, economic and environmental justice benefits are only realized IF we simultaneously shift the business model of rail toward one that draws freight off of trucks – especially long haul trucks – so that the trucking fleet can be decarbonized/electrified more rapidly (and affordably). This business model shift will inherently include a number of ancillary benefits.  But cross sector solidarity and our intentional engagement on the public interest deliverables will exponentially increase the potential for us to accomplish a number of other IMPORTANT goals.
If we can build and sustain such solidarity amongst a broad and unconventional alliance, we will deliver significant victories that make a material difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
Public investment in this infrastructure improvement needs to come with public benefit mandates.  We need to guard against the temptation to merely bail out the railroad companies, using public funds and access to inexpensive financing to inflate private profits by reducing fuel expenses and expanding marketshare. That would be a wasted opportunity, irresponsible/corrupt policy, and a historically tragic mistake.
The railroads are our first regulated monopolies.  They are common carriers allowed to exist as private providers of critical infrastructural functionality as long as they serve the public interest.  Their current business model/trajectory of longer, less frequent trains, making fewer stops, with smaller crews is not consistent with the current public interests. It concentrates damages, underutilizes critical clean, efficient infrastructure, and robs communities of economic and cultural opportunity.  It clogs tracks impeding passenger trains and clogs freeways with polluting vehicles, especially dangerous trucks that spew diesel, kill thousands of drivers a year and disproportionately wear out our already neglected infrastructure.

Thus, it is essential that we update our public interest expectations of these regulated monopolies/common carriers.  I submit that public interest includes this list of items (and likely others): 

  • worker and community safety, (minimum crew sizes, regular work schedules, removal of systemic causes of chronic fatigue, etc.)
  • return service and access to communities along the tracks for vibrant local economies and reversing trend and impacts from concentrated warehouses/hubs,
  • utilization of the RoW for renewable energy transmission to meet renewable energy goals by addressing transmission and balancing variability of renewable energy generation across many weather patterns,
  • guaranteed load/customer for surplus electricity created by renewable energy generation sources along the corridors,
  • critical support for decarbonizing freight transport from port to rail yard to warehouse to store/customer,
  • making way for faster passenger service to draw people away from air and vehicle travel,
  • resolving historical right of way justice wrongs committed against indigenous communities along the corridors, and
  • habitat protections especially where rail beds harm treaty protected fisheries or impede access to usual and accustomed gathering sites.
I would be honored to come to DC and bring others more expert than I to help communicate this critical message.  
Solutionary Rail project would like to co-produce a stakeholder symposium on the Solutionary Rail approach to just transition and decarbonization. I have proposed to Green New Deal allies that we consider working together to harness the support from members of Congress to reserve contiguous space at the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium for a series of just transition/Green New Deal briefings. I haven’t heard back about that proposition. Perhaps Congressman DeFazio or Congresswoman Jayapal or others would help us reserve space at the capitol.
If you and your organization is interested in participating in a Stakeholder Strategy Conference/Symposium or joint briefing, PLEASE reply to this email.
In solidarity, gratitude, and collaboration to make 2019 exceed expectations,

Bill Moyer
Executive Director
Backbone Campaign
Solutionary Rail campaign lead
o. 206-408-8058
c. 206-356-9980

Included in this email: 
Steve Shafarman, Fritz Edler, Joel Segal, Rep. Phil Barnhart, Winona LaDuke, Karen Dolan, John Cavanagh, Will Maus, Tom Goldtooth, Steve Chrismer, Angelo Logan, Jim Hoecker, Carol Werner, Janet Redman, Howie Klein, Mustafa Ali, Bob Fertik, Michelle Romero, Ron Kaminkow, Varshini Prakash, Wenonah Hauter, David Levine, Daphne Wysham, Samuel Golding, Jacqui Patterson, Gar Alperovitz, Roger Hickey, Holmes Hummel, Alexander MacDonald, Dan Kammen, Sierra Club electrification folks, the Solutionary Rail technical and campaign teams, and more.