The Green New Deal doesn’t need to choose between planes or trains. Here’s why.

According to a January Hart Research Associates and Normington-Petts poll, likely primary and caucus voters in California, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina are all more inclined to back a candidate with a Green New Deal-like proposal. Those states will play a major role in selecting the Democratic nominee.

The Green New Deal doesn’t need to choose between planes or trains. Here’s why.  Excerpt, Feb 22, 2019

There were “130 publicly known electrically propelled aircraft programs as of October 2018,” according to consulting firm Roland Berger.

The electric plane revolution.

In June, Norway tested a two-seat electric plane and anticipates starting passenger flights on electric planes by 2025. The country, also a leader in the use of electric vehicles, is aiming for all short-haul air travel to be completely electric by 2040.

Seattle-based airplane manufacturer Zunum Aero, which is backed by both Boeing and JetBlue, is developing a six to 12 seat, 700-mile range hybrid-electric aircraft to begin selling in 2020. Zunum Aero also plans to create a 50-seat 1,000-mile aircraft for the mid-2020s, and then a 100-seat, 1,500 mile aircraft (capable of over 500 miles per hour) by 2030.

Airbus itself is pursuing a hybrid-electric aircraft that can carry 100 passengers 600 miles — from New York City to Detroit — by 2030, the BBC reported last year.

Hybrid systems have both electric motors that run off of batteries and combustion engines that burn fossil fuels. In a hybrid airplane system, the electric drive allows the combustion turbines to be smaller and operated near their maximum efficiency all the time (which is quite similar to the role the electric drive plays in a hybrid car like the Prius). Reliance on these types of driving systems during takeoff and landing helps make the airplane much quieter.

While the hybrid-electric drives on airplanes can reduce fuel use by one quarter, the plan is to introduce better and smaller lithium-ion batteries as the technology improves, leading to full electrification of aircraft. And the next generation of batteries that could be available by the mid-2020s hold the promise of carrying two and a half times the energy of existing batteries — at one third the cost.

Zunum’s CEO and founder Ashish Kumar says their “roadmap would place aviation on path to eliminate all short-haul emissions by 2040, equating to 50 percent of all emissions from the sector, aligned with the goal set by Norway.”

High-speed rail is definitely worth investing in, but whatever Green New Deal legislation ultimately emerges should be placing a very large bet on electrifying air travel as well.