September 15, 1990
Board of Directors
Bay Area Air Quality Management District
939 Ellis Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Thank you for your courageous response to MTC on their TCM Plan. Their "One Motive Fits All" (you guessed it -- money) approach to air quality has delayed the achievement of clean air in the Bay Area for much too long. If unchecked, the MTC will continue mouthing a few appropriate words, while making no real change in the automobile-dependent lifestyle that is the root of the problem.
However, your response, while acknowledging that the Emperor is not fully dressed, still fails to mention that he is actually practically buck naked! There is not one word in your response that would indicate that you have doubts about whether MTC's highway expansion program will actually improve air quality. It was wise of you to ask for more documentation of the methodology, but you can bet that MTC will not voluntarily reveal how they doctored the computations to "prove" that expanding freeways (even in the form of HOV [sic] lanes) will reduce emissions.
The fact is (as you and Jean Roggenkamp well know, since I sent you the information myself), there is not a shred of evidence that building more freeways or widening existing ones will lead to reduced emissions or cleaner air. The only research on this topic (and only research can answer the question -- not "modelling runs") shows that widening roads just encourages people to drive farther and more often, with the net result of increased emissions and fuel consumption.
Greig Harvey said in his statement to Judge Henderson that there is "documentation" proving benefits from HOV lanes. However, when I asked to see the evidence, he referred me to Jeff Georgevich. And when I asked Jeff, he said it was just modelling runs. Computers don't prove anything; they just grind out results according to the formulas programmed into them. And the formulas programmed into MTC's computers lead to the conclusion (surprize!) that highway expansion is beneficial to air quality.
In spite of your unpleasant report to MTC, you are in bed with them, with the covers pulled up over your head. Otherwise, why would you try to sidestep the most important issue: will the plan actually lead to attainment of the air quality standards? I wouldn't be surprized if some people conclude that your fight with Rod Diridon was staged, to make you look like the "tough guys". Tough, you are not, or you would face the critical issue head on.
I was disappointed, but not really surprized, that Osby Davis would lie to me about the Diridon incident. But by not rolling over for MTC on that one, you have proved that you are really in charge. Now stand up like a mensch and tell them the complete truth.
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.
P.S. As the Air Resources Board's comments show, they too are in bed with the MTC (and Caltrans and Federal Highways and the developers and highway construction firms, etc.). You can see this in their wholehearted support for more HOV lanes, CMPs, and park-and-ride lots. Public officials who have the guts to stand up to the highway lobby are even rarer than the endangered species that the highways are threatening. By the way, the words "or traffic congestion" in the Cortese measure's definition of TCMs is a giant loophole that needs to be plugged: relieving congestion does not, in the long run, improve air quality. And you should explicitly include highways in your discussion of indirect sources.