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Green? My ass!
by stephen donahue Thursday, Mar. 01, 2007 at 2:22 AM

Its too easy being green

Green? My ass!

Recently Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Perhaps this action is supposed to supplement Pittsburgh City Council’s unanimous endorsement in July of 2006 of the Sierra Club’s so-called “Cool Cities Campaign.” Both of these measures call on the city to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Regardless by signing onto this accord Luke Ravenstahl can now claim to be “green.”

This May Pittsburgh will hold primary elections. Given local politics the Democratic Party primary will choose the city’s next mayor. Incumbent Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (Democrat) faces a strong rival in the primary in the person of City Council Member Bill Peduto (Democrat). Seeing this move by the incumbent to grab green votes Bill Peduto is claiming that he is the real green candidate and that Luke Ravenstahl is a Johnny-come-lately to the green scene. Bill Peduto is touting his Green Building Alliance’s Shades of Green Leadership Award and his consistent endorsements by the Sierra Club.

So which of these candidates is really green? The answer is neither. Yes, the incumbent is signing climate protection agreements and his rival is promoting “green technology” but regardless of this they are both also doing all they can to promote private automobile use.

Ask either candidate about the city parking tax and they will tell you that it must be lowered. Why, if they are really green would they not use the higher parking tax as a way to promote public transit? Then ask either candidate about the practice of using Tax Increment Financing (TIFs) to fund the construction of parking garages and they will just look at you like you are nuts. Ask why a new “green building” has a parking garage built along side it and you will be told not to worry because the parking garage will have a bike rack.

Pittsburgh is in a parking garage building spree right now. Every new development comes with one or more parking garages attached. Bill and Luke are using tax money to finance four new parking garages along Second Avenue at the Pittsburgh Technology Center. The renovation of the old Nabisco Bakery by luxury condo developer Walnut Capital will include a 1,200 car parking garage. This Bakery Square project is in the heart of East Liberty a major public transit hub but that doesn’t matter. Bakery Square is being built for the car not the bus.

Since the year 2000, the city has built or is presently building over 16 parking garages (Post-Gazette, 2/16/06) and many more are planned. Massive parking garages going up in all sections of the city. Thousands and thousands of new parking spaces for private single occupant automobiles are being built. So, won’t the benefits of a Pedutoesque green building be washed out by the parking garage being built right next to it? Questions in this vein have received just blank stares from the green candidates.

Do either of our these green candidates know that public transit produces 95 % less carbon monoxide (CO), 90 % less in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and about 50 % as much carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx), per passenger mile, as private vehicles. Yep, public transit cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions. Does either of them know that a full bus equals around 50 less cars on the street? Does either of them know that increased use of public transit will make the building of heat radiating concrete and asphalt roads and parking lots less necessary? Yep, public transit can really help reduce the heat island effect of urban areas by reducing the need to keep gobbling up green space for cars.

As this article is being written the Port Authority of Allegheny County is planning to eliminate over 50% of its bus routes in June of 2007. They also intend to increase fares annually beginning on January 1, 2008. If this should happen it will mean the death of public transit in the region. Right now there are captive bus riders who are saving up to buy a used car and riders of choice are getting back into commuting by car. The Port Authority reckons it will lose at least 11% of its riders in 2007. They will lose more riders in 2008. People are going to lose confidence in a public transit system that is expensive and just doesn’t go many places anymore. And so beginning this summer thousands more single occupant cars will begin dumping their CO and CO2 into the city air. So much for the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and the Sierra Clubs Cool Cities Campaign.

The City of Pittsburgh is not required to and thus does not contribute a penny toward public transit. The question that must be asked of these so called green candidates is what public policy do they promote that encourages people to leave their car parked and ride public transit? The answer is none. Why doesn’t the city give tax breaks to employers who help their employees pay for monthly bus passes instead of using tax money to build parking garages? Why when most cities are moving toward establishing “car free zones” does Bill Peduto want to make downtown a “bus free zone?”

Give us a break! Free parking on holidays does not promote public transit. Lowering the city parking tax does not promote public transit. Giving tax breaks for the construction of ever more parking garages does not promote public transit. Shoot these clowns don’t know beans about using public policy to get folks on the bus or trolley. Are they green? Green, my ass!

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 22 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Oh to be touche by Sheryl Crow. Vladamir Thursday, May. 03, 2007 at 2:20 AM
global warming is a scam Algore Wednesday, Apr. 25, 2007 at 4:54 AM
the incredible arrogance of the Unbathed child-mind Boris Monday, Apr. 23, 2007 at 5:39 PM
Green? More like Brown(shirt) Boris Monday, Apr. 23, 2007 at 5:46 AM
Herein lies our problem... Suomynona Sunday, Apr. 15, 2007 at 7:54 PM
He's Watching you... Mr. Peduto Project Monday, Mar. 26, 2007 at 10:31 PM
Garages better than Parking Lots Chilled Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2007 at 10:47 PM
Not just red lights Mr. Peduto Project Monday, Mar. 19, 2007 at 8:37 AM
Greenies Matt H Monday, Mar. 19, 2007 at 2:04 AM
comments matt Wednesday, Mar. 07, 2007 at 7:49 PM
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