Austin Cannot Avoid Dirty Air

RECEIVED Tue., July 28, 2009

Dear Editor,
    The short answer to "Can Austin Avoid the Stigma of Dirty Air" [News, July 24] is "No," at least not without directly addressing the fundamental cause of why the region’s air quality has consistently become degraded over the past four decades since the National Environmental Policy Act was first passed – the style and pattern of metropolitan development and the transportation system which serves and supports that pattern of growth. The Clean Air Force (I prefer the above title, as it’s more truthful and accurate) was from the outset (and remains today) a propaganda tool pushed into being through the efforts of development and highway-industry promoters (and the political actors they supported) in order to “raise public awareness” through jawboning and cajoling the problem of impending doom if air quality degraded past the magic number for nonattainment under the Clean Air Act, all the while deliberately blunting or undercutting any discussion of the true underlying cause in order to enable continued sprawl and the construction of specific highways (MoPac, Highway 130) which support largely unrestrained, low-density development before the inevitable hammer came down.
Jim Vance
Circleville
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