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CH2M pushes UAE Masdar as model PRT

In writing about the recent PPSBN Sustainability conference, I failed miserably to highlight the keynote speaker Nancy Tuor, who represented CH2M Hill as a model green corporate citizen. Ms Tuor, the “Group President and Executive Sponsor for Sustainability” at CH2M Hill, had headliner status at the conference because she is Program Manager on the MASDAR Green City development in the United Arab Emirates, a smoke and mirrors project if ever there was, and it’s smoke from burning oil.

According to the program for this week’s conference in Colorado Springs:

CH2M HILL is the delivery partner for the first phase of the MASDAR development, a carbon-neutral and zero-waste sustainable city nestled in the heart of Abu Dhabithe first major hydrocarbon producing nation.

First, a sustainable city built on income generated by fossil fuel is an oxymoron. Second, UAE’s efforts appear to be centered on securing the technological rights to new sources and practices before their monopoly on oil expires.

MASDAR is a comprehensive Abu Dhabi government program to address the issues of sustainable energy sources and environmental practices. The program is focused on developing and commercializing advanced and innovative technologies in renewable, alternative, and sustainable energies.

In other words, their definition of sustainable is much like the military’s, they want to sustain their profits.

Minneapolis Confidential‘s Ken Avidor contacted NMT about another outlandish aspect of CH2M’s green charade in Masdar. It relates to an announcement which Nancy Tuor made at the conference:

MIST delays impact PRT schedule. At a sustainability conference in Colorado Springs on November 3, 2009, Nancy Tuor, CH2M Hills program manager for the MASDAR Green City in the United Arab Emirates, announced that the personal rapid transit (PRT) system will open to public use in about six months.

It seems a central showpiece of the Masdar development is a Personal Rapid Transit system which always fails to materialize. As Avidor writes:

You may have seen blog posts and news stories about a “sustainable” city in the United Arab Emirates called Masdar. One of the supposed “green” features of the Masdar project is a “Personal Rapid Transit” (PRT) system. It turns out the PRT system is a joke… but what do expect from a country where a prominent royal family member tortures people and has it all documented on video.

One of Avidor’s astute readers makes the point that the US tortures people, and documents it on video as well. So much for that dig at UAE, but Avidor’s central criticism stands. PRT projects worldwide are being lauded with out merit, but of critical relevance, PRTs are being used as stalking horses to thwart the finite budgets which metropolitan regions have for mass transit.

Interestingly, Avidor’s blog posts are being dogged by two detractors who can’t sing praises enough for PRTs. Maybe they’re new technology freaks who want to see Jetsons fantasies in their lifetimes. Maybe they believe the argument against mass transit, that contemporary man doesn’t want a community experience when he commutes. If they aren’t PRT industry shills, they should at least concede that no number of personal pods will accommodate the masses. They’re luxury hogs who don’t want to share the ride.

As cars sank the trolleys, so could PRT smoke and mirrors sink trains and subways. But the rich man has no need for mass transit. Why not get the taxpayers to fund something that will be available to only he: personal transit. Where there’s no room for the masses. It’s the same strategy the rich use to fund their charter schools at the expense of public schools.

Where the rich are fleecing the needy, you can always count on Colorado Springs to sign on.

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