Envtl l tech j 155 extensive road building and motor

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Unformatted text preview: e: Follow the money: transportation investments for smarter growth,” Temple Environmental Law & Technology Journal, Spring, 2004, 22 Temp. Envtl. L. & Tech. J. 155) Extensive road building and motor vehicle use, as well as the sprawl spurred by current transportation approaches, are linked to virtually every pressing environmental problem and to serious public health concerns. One of the most dramatic impacts of current development and transportation patterns is the rapid loss of open space. Over 25 million acres were developed nationwide between 1982 and 1997, and the rate of land consumption is accelerating. n16 This phenomenal growth has caused a massive loss of productive farmland and forests, wetlands, wildlife habitat, and other precious resources. Rapid growth spurred by transportation investments also impacts both water quality and quantity. Roads, parking lots, and buildings are replacing millions of acres of forests, farms, and wetlands that would otherwise filter water. The rise in the amount of impervious surfaces increases the volume of pollutant runoff, increases erosion, and slows groundwater replenishment, thus depleting water supplies. n17 In addition, land bulldozed for roads and development is a major source of silt in rivers and streams, and road use and maintenance introduces herbicides, pesticides, antifreeze, and other pollutants into the water. n18 Road-centered transportation investment policies have had severe air pollution impacts as well. Motor vehicles are a major source of pollutants such as carbon monoxide and smog-causing nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds; trucks, diesel buses, and road building equipment also emit soot, particulate matter, and other pollutants. Among other things, these emissions can cause premature death, lung tissue damage, asthma attacks, visibility impairment, and forest damage. The American Lung Association estimates that 137 million Americans live in areas violating ozone health standards. n19 The Clean Air Act and technological advances have sharply curtailed the amount of pollution released per mile from driving; however, this progress has been offset by the dramatic increase in the amount of miles driven. n20 [*162] Vehicle emissions also are a major source of greenhouse gases, which could have catastrophic environmental, health, and economic impacts by causing global climate change. The average vehicle emits more than one pound of carbon dioxide per mile, n21 and transportation is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. n22 There is growing evidence linking automobile dependence and sprawling settlement patterns to a number of other serious public health problems. n23 The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that by increasing the distances between activities, and thereby discouraging walking, sprawl increases obesity. n24 Physical inactivity also contributes significantly to health problems such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain forms of cancer. Moreover, traffic crashes claime...
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