July 19, 1992
Next President Bill Clinton
Next Vice President Al Gore
112 West 3rd Street
P.O. Box 8802
Little Rock, Arkansas 72231
Re: Environmental Policy: The Automobile (A Word to the Wise)
We have something very important in common. My mother was killed in an automobile accident when I was 8. Al Gore's son was almost killed in an automobile accident. And I understand that Governor Clinton's father died in an automobile accident.
I think that the future of this country, and even of the world, depends on our facing this problem head on: automobile addiction is literally destroying the quality of life of every human being and every other species of living thing on the Earth. This has got to stop!
Ozone depletion, global warming, acid rain, smog, traffic injuries and deaths, destruction of wildlife and wildlife habitat, water pollution, noise pollution, toxic pollution, loss of farmland, time wasted sitting behind the wheel of a car, squandering of our supplies of petroleum that will be needed for higher purposes ... the list is almost endless.
George Bush stands for more auto dependence, more highways, less public transit, and less conservation. We need to seize the leadership role, which means not running away from this problem, but attacking it head on. There is no mystery about what must be done. It can be summed up in Peter Newman's troika, Urban Villages (amenable to walking and bicycling, not auto-dependent), Light Rail (electric train systems), and Traffic Calming (making it inconvenient to drive and convenient to use cleaner modes of transport). I would add Rail Freight and Taking the Automobile Off Welfare (removing the automobile subsidy -- making auto users pay the full cost of auto use, environmental and otherwise).
It's time to put a halt to the construction of more roads, parking lots, and other forms of auto worship, and shift our resources to cleaner forms of transport and people-friendly, pedestrian-friendly land uses. This use of our funds will provide more jobs, more permanent jobs, and higher quality jobs than road construction. And much higher quality of life. I hope you agree.
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.