Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why Do Enviros Hate Personal Transportation?

Noel Spaid's editorial in today's Union-Tribune trots out the same misinformation and half-truths used by so called environmentalists to argue against any road building.

The sky over L. A. is yellow-gray many days and you can’t see the sun in sunny California. That’s the result of building too many freeways in L.A. Is this what we want for San Diego County – more cars, more gas, more dependence on oil and foreign governments that are our sworn enemies? Exactly what is good about this plan? We are going to spend $3.3 to $4.5 billion to do this to ourselves?

P.L.A.G.U.E. has spoken.

He argues that expanding an existing route, I-5, in North County, would damage the environment and cause us to be more dependent on foreign oil. But, compared to what? Doing nothing just increases the current gridlock, cars idling get very poor mileage and pollute the environment even more.

What are the alternatives to meeting the known demand for transportation? The rail efforts mentioned are years off. It has been widely reported that building freeway is the most cost effective way to increase transport capacity and rail is much less effective than highway building in reducing congestion. Further, additional lanes can be used to provide incentives for low emission solutions of carpools, hybrid vehicles and buses. Merely expanding a freeway does not lead to the outcomes the author suggests. Further, misleading statistics are used to bolster the argument, it is 34,000, not 47,000 annual deaths on our highways, 40% of which are estimated to be alcohol related.

I admit to being concerned over the need to remove homes along the route. In California, we don't have a good track record of adequately compensating under the takings clause.

Ultimately, I suspect that the real objection to more freeway is a hatred for the freedom that individual vehicles give us. Those vehicles are getting more and more fuel efficient and as gasoline prices have risen our behavior is resulting in less pollution and less fossil fuel consumption, I favor a carbon tax (with an offset against the income tax) to reduce pollution, but don't take away the freedom that comes from making our own choices.


  1. Liberator: Here is a nice piece that summarizes how much improvement California has made over the past 30 years. It is not in the interest of eco-bureaucrats to promote the success -- otherwise, they might be out of a job.

  2. P.L.A.G.U.E.? What kind of dorky acronym is that? Why not D.I.N.G.B.A.T. or W.A.N.K.E.R. or M.Y.B.O.X.E.R.S.H.O.R.T.S.A.R.E.C.H.A.F.I.N.G.M.E.?

  3. Don't forget all the toxic, dangerous chemicals hybrids produce in the mining of their batteries.

  4. Thanks for all the comments after I was light on the posting for a while.
    Mutnodjmet, thanks for the information in the link.
    KT, exactly.
    Harrison, I forgot about that fact.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. ... as he was linked over at BwD. ;)

  7. I think it's dangerous to imply secondary motives to people. For example, various blogs have been suggesting that McChrystal engineered his own firing to get out of a bad job. To me, that's not supported by the facts. It looks like he was just an arrogant loudmouth.

    Similarly, I'd suggest the environmentalists intend exactly what they say they do - they don't like the pollution. Their flaw is not a hatred of freedom, but a lack of practical knowledge. You can't force public transport on a population whose geography was predicated on cars. I think it's no more complicated than that.