The F1/Circuit of the Americas article [“Formula Farrera
,” News, Jan. 13] by Richard Whittaker raises a legitimate concern re: can a race track both advance the cause of environmental sustainability and curtail its sizable footprint?
As a direct contributor to the list of city of Austin sustainability measures and someone who knows the importance of pollution prevention, I have witnessed the unresponsiveness by F1 employees and their attorneys on the suggestions to reduce the site development impacts related to air quality.
A trio including a Texas state representative, a Travis County staff member, and a city of Austin manager have not been able to get someone from F1/COTA to emerge as a leader to address how to reduce air pollution since the early summer 2011. The city of Austin, driven by citizen initiative, has developed a list of voluntary measures to reduce both ground-level air emissions and greenhouse gas emissions from the site development process.
These measures could be used during all aspects of the site development as well as during building construction. Green building as pioneered by Austin Energy and the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system are among the most important environmental programs ever launched, but they lack a robust rating tool to incentivize air pollution reduction during the site development.
A longer-term concern is to what extent will the F1/COTA track accelerate urban sprawl and the cost of future infrastructure that is disproportionately paid for by existing ratepayers instead of the direct beneficiaries.