Posted by Gloria Ohland, August 5, 2015
A new coalition of 20 environmental organizations named EnviroMetro has signed on to a letter that outlines priorities for a possible 2016 sales tax measure for transportation, and we enthusiastically applaud their choices, including “an explicit goal of increasing funding for public transit and active transportation and lowering drive-alone trips”! Their priorities are to:
- Give preference only to projects that are either GHG-neutral or that reduce GHG emissions . . . no projects that increase vehicle travel should be funded
- Target funding for, prioritize multi-benefit projects in, and avoid burdening “disadvantaged communities” already disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution
- Prioritize multi-benefit projects such as cool pavements, increased tree canopy, and shaded transit stops to help cool down entire neighborhoods, reduce urban heat island effects, and improve air quality
- Integrate natural assets into a first-last-mile strategy
- Incorporate green infrastructure and biological mitigation for projects into funding measure
Reduce GHG emissions: “Preference should be given to projects
that reduce GHGs, are GHG-neutral, or enhance the region’s multimodal
network . . . No projects that induce additional vehicle travel, such as
most new freeways or additional roadway capacity projects, should be
- The letter cites a AQMD study that finds the transportation sector accounts for up to 85% of criteria and ozone precursor emissions in the South Coast Basin.
- The letter also points out that asthma rates have gone up in the last decade for both Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black children, who have the highest rates of asthma (25%), compared to Hispanic children (8%), non-Hispanic White children (7%) and Asian/Pacific Islander children (4%). In order to address this problem the Centers for Disease Control recommends more investment in transit, more strategies to boost ridership, more transit-oriented development, and more resources for multi-modal transportation
- And the letter cites a report by the University of California and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, which found a significant shift to public transit and active transportation coupled with a decrease in road construction, parking garages and other things that encourage car ownership results in a 40% reduction in GHG emissions.
- Fund deployment of zero- and near-zero-emissions freight technologies.
Target funding for, prioritize multi-benefit projects in, and
avoid burdening “disadvantaged communities” already disproportionately
burdened by multiple sources of pollution.
- The letter points out that low-income communities and communities of color are already exposed to the highest rates of transportation-generated pollution and consequently suffer from higher rates of asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), obesity and other chronic illnesses.
- Prioritize multi-benefit projects such as cool pavements, increased tree canopy, and shaded transit stops to help cool down entire neighborhoods, reduce urban heat island effects and improve air quality . . . “require every new transportation project to demonstrate how it will lower air pollution in disadvantaged communities . . . projects should also mitigate against displacement of local businesses, people of color and other low-income residents.”
- Integrate natural assets into a first-last-mile strategy . . . “The region’s urban river corridors are strategically located to serve as key non-vehicular transportation corridors, as safe routes to school and first-last-mile connections providing a multi-objective green infrastructure network.”
- Incorporate green infrastructure and biological mitigating for projects by including a stormwater runoff capture and management element in transportation plans to protect this potential water supply, for example, and using permeable surfaces where possi ble in the construction of new projects, facilities and parking lots . . . “Similarly natural habitats should be protected from construction impacts.”