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Cleaning up the air – the wrong way

In a certain town in a certain southeastern state, a strange plan for clearing up the air has been hatched. Air pollution has long been a growing problem, costly in lives lost and in health-treatment needs for many illnesses. By the mid 1990s in said state, for instance, five times more persons than in 1960 died of obstructive lung diseases each year, thanks to numerous, obnoxious and toxic pollutants in the air.
To quite a large extent, the problem is traceable to a car-centered system for getting around. The Clean Air Act in 1990, therefore, established a new approach to transportation decision-making. States and communities would be obliged to implement programs to reduce their air-pollution loads, risking loss of highway funding where standards were not attained. The law’s ISTEA portions provided broad eligibility and funding for transportation to be diversified, such as through development or expansion of mass transit, and bicycle and pedestrian, non-motorized travel infrastructure. Through reducing vehicular travel and shifting investment to make transportation inter-modal, air pollution would be reduced and the environmental harm from vehicle traffic lessened.
The opportunities proffered under the law were little used by said state, as its own attorney general testified lately, nor by the town in question. In the latter, for example, a visioning study fourteen years ago saw citizens stating their wish for “pedestrian accessibility to all parts of the town, bicycle and walking trails” linking to nearby towns and “adequate mass transit” to employment centers, commercial-corridor shopping and town-center amenities. The Community Plan seeking this transportation vision seems then to have been promptly buried.
On the contrary, a new plan would further strengthen the service infrastructure for motor traffic. A gas station and car wash, though these are quite abundant would be added, in an environmentally sensitive location. In a most extraordinary somersault from the ISTEA notions, the plan asserts to “reduce air pollution by reducing the amount of miles driven.” It deems people in the town to differ from those elsewhere by routinely making separate car trips to fill up gas tanks or use a commercial wash. Were it so, and the closest existing facilities of this kind being some 650 yards away, all those extra excursions would indeed add up to quite a few miles over time, whose air pollution the new station would avoid. In other words, it views the town inhabitants to not act in the money-and time-thrifty way of planning these chores together with other trips, that people generally are wont to do. In this way, the plan figures air-pollution savings from an additional commercial facility that, in actuality, fosters more vehicular travel and pollution, not less.
To accommodate the space needs of the “pollution-reducing” development, a stream would need to be moved out of the way. The state in question announced its concurrence with the above line of reasoning and agreement, therefore, to permit the stream’s relocation.
Be game, now, little creek and downstream waters and creatures! Your ordeal will serve the entirely noble cause of cleaning up our air.