November 23, 1990
Hon. Byron Sher
Hon. Dominic Cortese
California State Assembly
Sacramento, California 95814
Re: Loophole in the California Clean Air Act
Section 40717(g) of the CCAA defines transportation control measures as "any strategy to reduce vehicle trips, vehicle use, vehicle miles traveled, vehicle idling, or traffic congestion for the purpose of reducing motor vehicle emissions". This is fine, except for the words "or traffic congestion". In fact, those words are at best redundant, and at worst, counterproductive.
As research on the subject of highway expansion shows, relieving congestion does not reduce emissions, but actually increases both emissions and fuel consumption, by causing people to drive farther and more often. In fact, common sense would tell one that expanding roads could not possibly cause the decrease in vehicle use that we so desperately need.
However, the San Francisco Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the California State Air Resources Board, and other pro-highway lobbyists have used those words to justify their senseless push toward building more and bigger freeways. The inevitable result will be that we will have to wait another 20 years without the clean air we all deserve.
The MTC has included highway expansion as a TCM in response to both the federal and state CAAs! The fact that some of these new lanes function as "HOV" lanes for a few hours a day (usually allowing 2 people to qualify as a HOV!) does not change the fact that highway expansion allows for and encourages increased vehicle use. Recently, MTC has also decided to simply ignore the TCM requirements of the Cortese legislation, with the excuse that its target-attainment requirement "conflicts" with that of the CAA!
Similarly, the ARB has completely ignored the facts that (1) halting highway expansion is a TCM, indeed, a "reasonably available" TCM; and (2) highways are indirect sources, and hence subject to the indirect source requirement. [E.g., see their "CCAA Transportation Requirements Guidance, February, 1990.]
Can you please make sure that these giant loopholes are closed? Otherwise, highway expansion will nullify all of our other efforts toward attaining clean air in California.
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.