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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » Do more LD"s fit into Amtrak's Strategic Plan?

   
Author Topic: Do more LD"s fit into Amtrak's Strategic Plan?
palmland
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According to an article by Bob Johnston in the current issue of Trains magazine, the answer is 'not likely'. The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008 requires Amtrak to develop specific measurements (metrics - is the current buzzword) on efficiency. With the financial improvements required it is unlikely if Amtrak will foot the bill for additional service. Much more likely is growth in the state funded corridor trains.

In a related article by Fred Frailey, he talks about the success of the state sponsored California trains. Amtrak wants that to be the model for expansion. Hard to argue with that, but are there not instances where it make sense to improve connectivity between corridors by having a linking LD service. Texas is certainly ripe for that - and maybe that's what Amtrak has in mind with the discussion on a daylight San Antonio to New Orleans train. The Midwest is another opportunity to link NEC service with the proposed new 3-C service in Ohio.

One disturbing comment, was that PRIIA divided Amtrak into federally funded LD routes as defined by anything over 750 miles. Anything less must be state supported by 2013. What does that mean for Empire Service, the Wolverines in Michigan, and the Pennsylvanian?

The next few years should be quite interesting, and the dominoes should start to fall when the HSR routes to receive initial funding are announced, supposedly this month.

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notelvis
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Interesting points.......and I actually was reading the Frailey article earlier this evening.

I believe that the Empire Corridor and the Pennsylvanian are already receiving state support. Not sure about the Wolverines.

--------------------
David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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Gilbert B Norman
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"Three a day" Wolverine is 100% Federal; Michigan supports the Pere Marquette and Blue Water.
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notelvis
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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
"Three a day" Wolverine is 100% Federal; Michigan supports the Pere Marquette and Blue Water.

There we go.

Be interesting to see what gyrations take place in the next few years to keep the Chicago-Detroit trains going.

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David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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palmland
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The Amtrak timetable seems to consistently note if trains are state supported. No such notation for Empire service. While Keystone service is specified, it appears the Pennsylvanian is not?
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Gilbert B Norman
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Empire service is 100% federally funded - the only intRAstate service able to make that claim! This is likely payback in consideration that New York is an overwhelming "credit state" - their taxpayers put far more into the Feddytill than they ever take out.

A very interesting observation, Mr. Palmland, with regards to The Pennsylvanian. Within its own route timecard, no mention of State funding. Within the Keystone Service folder, State funding is of course mentioned, but only with regards to Keystone Service.

Mr. Palmland's observation also has bearing upon our discussion elsewhere regarding a second Harrisburg Pittsburgh frequency. In order for such to occur, there would have to be a "modification', shall we say, of the doctrine set forth during the Bush administration of no new Federally funded services. Now it appears that the State legislature would be asked to 'break new ground' with Local funding of a "West Penn" service. Level the political playing field a bit, i.e. get some West Penn heavy hitters into office - Wash and/or Harrisburg; especially the latter (Sen Santorum is gone; now loading up his personal coffers on K Street - oh, but he was a train hater anyway) and such could be a maybe. Failing that, I'm inclined to think "no happen' - and the second frequency I believe is a service that would receive public acceptance to the extent that more passengers would be added to the route beyond those added by the second train.

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notelvis
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I believe I was mistaken - Empire Coridor service received state support only in New York state footing the bill for refurbishing a few turboliners which were removed from service altogether a short time later.

While that was support of sorts, it was a far cry from providing operating exspenses.

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David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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delvyrails
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The Pennsylvanian was started up with PA funding back when there were schedules beyond Pittsburgh that did not suit people in WesPA. Amtrak later removed the state funding requirement, although I cannot remember the date or circumstances. It may have been contemporaneous with discontinuance of the Three Rivers.

Getting back to the bigger question:

1. Don't we get from government nowadays basically what corporate America (as opposed to people like ground-bound travelers) want? Corridor-building and shiny fast, new high-tech trains are more profitable for U.S. industry than building the likes of a station in Shreveport, lengthening a siding in west Texas, or making more Superliners.

2. Look at the make-up of Amtrak's Board. It's mostly Northeasterners plus the mayor of a town on the Chicago-Quincy corridor.

3. Long-distance trains, if directly routed, can be faster than driving, stopovers considered. However, the benefits accrue largely to the travelers. If you drive cross-country, roadside restaurants and motels, plus the oil industry and ultimately, the motorcar manufacturers, will profit.

I think that the national Amtrak system's future will only become patent when the Amtrak Board, assuming its composition becomes nation-wide, contracts for new Superliner sleepers.

--------------------
John Pawson

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Ocala Mike
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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
Empire service is 100% federally funded - the only intRAstate service able to make that claim! This is likely payback in consideration that New York is an overwhelming "credit state" - their taxpayers put far more into the Feddytill than they ever take out.

You don't suppose that it could have anything to do with this fact: "New York ranks 46th among the 50 states in the amount of greenhouse gases generated per person. This efficiency is primarily due to the state's higher rate of mass transit use."

As far as "credit states" ("donor states"), the top ten are blue states while 8 of the 10 biggest "receiver states" are red states. New Hampshire is a "donor state", but would have no Amtrak service at all were it not for the Downeaster.

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palmland
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I believe the Pennsylvania and its Governor are definitely on board with passenger rail. So I would not be surprised to see them fund the Pennsylvanian. Whether or not it can go to the next level as a corridor remains to be seen. The problem I would guess is that the geography, however scenic, makes it difficult to be competitive with the PA Turnpike.

As for New York, I'm not sure where the dollars would come from but I would think there would be a big outcry by the upstate politicians if their downstate counterparts failed to provide the necessary support to find the scarce funds for a continuation if not expansion of Empire Service.

Michigan is in even worse financial shape I gather, so Wolverines may disappear. More likely though is that these states and Amtrak will cut some sort of deal to continue to get at least partial Amtrak/federal support for reasons cited by GBN and Ocala Mike.

Right now, the future doesn't look so good for LD service. Let's hope the present network can be maintained. This will become a bigger issue in the next election as our reckless spending will be the reason the balance of power starts swinging to the right. Get your new equipment sooner rather than later Amtrak.

I guess if pushed to admit it, I would rather see 50 states with a CA, IL, or NC level of passenger service, than a skeletal, poorly maintained and operated national network. But it would be nice to have our cake and eat it too.

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sojourner
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As far as I know, the Empire Service is not funded by NY State (although I believe the state spends a fortune on Metro North, LIRR, NY subways, the roads and airports, etc. etc). The Empire Service runs on Metro North tracks as far north as Poughkeepsie, btw. Also, I believe the Empire Service between Albany and NYC makes Amtrak money--lots of commuters, state business etc. But do take note that west of Albany, the Empire Service has just 2 Niagara Falls trains in each direction (plus the Maple Leaf to Toronto and Lakeshore Ltd to Chicago, not solely NYS trains, of course; plus Adirondack & Ethan Allen do stop in Schenectady, which is west of Albany, before heading north & in the Ethan Allen's case, east).

NYS does give something for the Adirondack (which I believe helps keep its rates low); however, Governor Patterson was threatening to cut that in the last budget; don't know what came of those threats.

Vermont gives money for the Ethan Allen, which runs also through a lot of NYS to get to Vermont. This of course is only fair, since Vermont was stolen from NYS in the first place.

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Tanner929
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The NY Public System is run by the MTA which is running it into bancruptcy. One of the MTA Board members is Sir Paul McCartneys present girlfriend. Don't think your gonna see her much on the 7 Train. The Albany to NYC is a "commuter" line like "Amtrak Joe Bidens" commute from DC to Willmington. Perhaps LD's should be marketed as "Exursion Trains" rather then LD's sort of like Airlines have shuttles.
Don't you think it would be more economical (as much as a government operations can be)if the areas with public rail systems could extend some trains to major cities i.e NY-Albany,Philly-Harrisburg-Pitt
And finnally there needs to be a real study to pinpoint people who "Ride Trains" to those who "Love Train Travel" I think the later are made of of people tend to have a romantic cinima vision of train travel: But who in the end get in the car because the car leaves on their schedule. I think you'll find them on Capitol Hill.

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rresor
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A few points:

1) Philadelphia-Harrisburg service is funded by the state, which also put up money for track improvements and a return to electric operation. The Pennsylvanian is 100% Federally funded.

2) New York funds the Adirondack. All other Empire Service trains are Federally funded.

3) Maine and Mass. (but not New Hampshire) fund the Downeaster service.

4) Vermont funds the Ethan Allen.

Amtrak's board is dominated by northeasterners because 60% of Amtrak''s riders either begin or end their trips on the Northeast Corridor.

New York's MTA is not "going bankrupt". It has never survived without state subsidies. However, the New York subway system, plus PATH, carries almost two-thirds of all the heavy rail transit riders in the United States, and LIRR + Metro-North plus NJT account for 60% of all the commuter rail riders. So the Northeast is where the action is with respect to passenger rail. Everybody else put together is smaller.

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Tanner929
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"Going Bancrupt" when a quasi government operation is involved is well a realitive term. The Pension system is killing it, the building projects are way overbudget and of course it is like most of the NE systems are over century years old.
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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by Ocala Mike:
quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
This is likely payback in consideration that New York is an overwhelming "credit state" - their taxpayers put far more into the Feddytill than they ever take out.

You don't suppose that it could have anything to do with this fact: "New York ranks 46th among the 50 states in the amount of greenhouse gases generated per person. This efficiency is primarily due to the state's higher rate of mass transit use."
Yup. High transit usage is the only reason that New York is #46 in Greenhouse gases, if that is really true. I tend to be doubtful. How much of the electricity used in New York is generated out of state?

Their transit usage is not just "higher," it is the highest in the country. Note rresor's info: "the New York subway system, plus PATH, carries almost two-thirds of all the heavy rail transit riders in the United States, and LIRR + Metro-North plus NJT account for 60% of all the commuter rail riders." This is all related to two things: population density and that is due to a public transportation system that was first put in place over a century ago so that the area is facing only maintenance, upgrading and expansion costs, not initial installation costs in an urban area that grew without good public transit.

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PullmanCo
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IMO,

The only way LDs will fit into the transportation grid of the future is if the cap and trade limits on air are onerous enough to kill off air.

Otherwise, time of transit will win over carbon.

--------------------
The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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Mike Smith
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Fortunately, the cap-and-trade/global warming/CO2 hoax has about ended.

That said, here's The Won's latest "suggestion".

http://www.lucianne.com/thread/?artnum=518959

This link won't last long (about 4-5 more days).

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Ocala Mike
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Seems like Obama and Toyota have something in common: sticky accelerator pedals. Spending money on HSR while talking about an across-the-board freeze seems like driving with your foot on the gas and the brakes at the same time.

I suppose it's a case of the money being already allocated as part of the stimulus, though, so he'll sell it that way.

Meanwhile, I'm glad to hear from the above poster that global warming was just a temporary hoax and we are to pay no attention to the increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere.

--------------------
Ocala Mike

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George Harris
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I am generally with Mike Smith on both Global Warming and CO2. particulary the nonsense that CO2 is some sort of poison. Ask any plant. Plants take in CO2 and give off O2. Where does the C go? Into the wood and leaves. Plants may be rooted in the ground, but they take very little out of it. Otherwise you would have dents in the ground around trees rather than bulges. As to the global temperature changes, sea level rise and other disasters: There is a lot of arm waving and very little in the way or real verifiable numbers.

All this does not make building high speed rail wrong or other increases in rail serivce wrong nor does it mean that we should not be making serious attempts to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, particularly petroleum. We should. But using such dubious logic to get there is dangerous, as when the rationale is discredited, the need to make these changes is likely to lost with it.

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Ocala Mike
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I'm not a scientist (nor do I play one on tv), but it's the LEVEL of atmospheric CO2 that renders it toxic, not the compound itself.

Sugar dissolved in our blood isn't poison either, but diabetics need to be aware of its LEVEL at all times.

Now, back to HSR and tonight's State of the Union speech.

--------------------
Ocala Mike

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Geoff Mayo
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All of which reminds me that, much as electric trains are perceived to be clean, all depends on where their electricity actually comes from.

Dubious logic: definitely. They're not going to win over any critics with such tactics.

--------------------
Geoff M.

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Mike Smith
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If you walk around nurseries, you are probably exposed to 1200 PPB of CO2. That is an ideal level of CO2, if you are a plant or tree. Makes our 350ish PPB look kinda puny.

Here's an easy to understand primer on greenhouse gases:
http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html

That said...

Who knows if we will get HSR, even though it is a legitimate federal function. (enhancing commerce between the various States)

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RRRICH
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Here is a scientific explanation of global warming from the American Institute of Professional Geologists (of which I am a member):

http://www.aipg.org/Education/Global%20Climate%20Change_4h.pdf

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dfwguy
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Global Warming Deniers....remind me of the late 1970's.. When every Tobacco Co. would trot out a few Scientists, who would proclaim "there is no conclusive evidence that cigarette smoking and cancer are linked"
LOL

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PullmanCo
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Nuclear? Green? Give me a reality check! Nuclear radiation in quantity is as bad as it gets.

Coal, gas, petrol? Green? Smokestack gasses pollution.

Hydro? Green? Not if you like rivers.

Solar panels? Green? Not if you're Senator Barbara Boxer, who did not want to create a solar generating farm in the California desert.

Geothermal? Green? Not some atmospheric science folks who talk about the stuff emitted along with the steam when it's finished in the turbine.

I'm a geographer by education and a conservationist by a lifetime. That said, it seems to me too many environmentalists will only be happy if human society returns to agrarian subsistence farming.

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yukon11
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Here is another article on the causes of global warming.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704194504575031404275769886.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsSecond

The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere most likely related to flucuations in solar radiation and changes in ocean currents seem, to me, to make a lot of sense.

Richard

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CG96
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As other forum members both here and at Railroad.net have noted, the LD service act as as a "place-holder" of sorts. If it were not for the Empire Builder going across Wisconsin and Minnesota, I doubt that the Depts of Transportation of either state would give the time of day to passenger rail service. Having the Builder stop in those two states ensures that there will be some sort of constituency for rail service overall.

Also noted elsewhere: 218+ 51 + 1 = funding for trains. No stop in Yuma ? No money for your train, either.

Edit: I stand corrected. The correct number of Representatives required to pass a budget is 218, not the 251 I posted earlier. My apologies.

--------------------
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one corner of the Earth all one's life."

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RRRICH
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dfwguy - please rest assured that the AIPG is NOT a tobacco company, and has nothing to gain or lose from the "fact sheet" I shared with this group. AIPG is a nationwide association of professional scientific people, who base their positions and opinions on good scientific research, and not on "media hype." One of its many missions is to share good solid scientific knowledge, based on good solid science, with the general public, as well as with government regulators and lobbyists who really don't know what they are talking about.
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Mike Smith
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RRRich, I think the question should be is why do some people have a blind trust in whatever our government-paid scientists feeds them about our planet. I just do not understand why someone would want to believe mankind is killing our planet, despite the complete lack of any reasonable proof....
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Mike Smith
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And our favorite barking moonbat, Wendell Cox, is at it again. He has conveniently forgotten about the billions of dollars of subsidies that roadways, airways, and waterways receive on an annual basis, and overstates the amount railways receive...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703389004575033672230734364.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion

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RRRICH
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Mike -- you are right about some people's non-trust of "government-paid scientists." The AIPG, however, is made up of scientists from many different employers, including "government-paid scientists" (USGS, etc.), plus many many more other geologists, including a lot of academic and private enterprise consultant-type people.
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zephyr
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Anyone who thinks rising CO2 levels is not a crisis is a knuckle dragging knucklehead.

I worry about it all the time. And I think our government is not doing enough to save our planet.

Sure, sure, they're proposing green this, and green that. But what are they doing about breathing?

Try to follow along (some of you may need to get your crayons out). Is it not an indisputable fact that we inhale oxygen, and exhale CO2? And is not the latter the problem? And don't millions and millions of us breathe every day?

So why no legislation to limit breathing? Personally, I think there's way too much breathing going on out there anyway.

It's a simple choice. A little oxygen deprivation, or the end of the world as we know it.

Let's do our part and not wait for much needed legislation. Just breathe a little less each and every day.

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Mike Smith
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zephyr, I did the math...

If each of us on this planet (all 6.6 billion of us) took 1 less breath each minute, we would save about 1.5 trillion liters of CO2 entering our atmosphere each day. (There are over 10 trillion liters of CO2 exhaled by humans every day)

And if we could train all of the animals to do this too, the daily CO2 savings would be astronomical!!!

Posts: 1418 | From: Houston, Republic of Texas | Registered: Jan 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
zephyr
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Wow. And who would miss taking one less breath per minute?

But I wouldn't be concerned about CO2 savings from our furry friends. You see, their CO2 is special. It is not harmful to the environment like human CO2. You can get more information on this at any animal rights website.

Your math certainly convinces me to limit my breathing. But we best let the likes of Wormy (that's my dog) breathe natural, though I would entertain any thoughts on how I might limit his methane emissions.

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