Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Charlotte meets EPA ozone rules. Sort of.

Visible air pollution shows in 2002 photo of Charlotte skyline

(Update 6:30 p.m. Thursday: I've edited and tinkered in several spots below, after a conversation with Steinman)
On my calendar for May 4, just above where I had scrawled "Primary," was the note, "conformity deadline." "Conformity" is bureaucrat-ese for whether the Charlotte region's long-range transportation plans meet federal requirements for clamping down on ozone.

If the plans don't pass muster, we lose a huge chunk of federal transportation money.

The plans don't have to actually reduce on ozone, mind you. They just have to follow the right formulas and use computer modeling to show that ozone will go down.

I called Norm Steinman of the Charlotte Department of Transportation. (Dare I call him the conformity czar? He protests the term, which I just made up, but he's in charge of the city of Charlotte's measuring of the regional conformity models.)

Charlotte has passed, Steinman told me. The city was notified just a few days before. The letter, he said, was in the mail.

Almost 60 percent of the Charlotte region's ozone comes from vehicle exhaust, including off-road vehicles. If you're skeptical that it really will go down so much, given the projected population growth, join the crowd. It's true, cars are getting cleaner and emissions are sinking. But in a growing city, the increasing number of vehicles on the road and the increasing number of miles they're driving will partly counterbalance cleaner cars, especially as EPA standards keep getting tougher, as more and more evidence shows how bad for use zone and air pollution are.

But with the city's high unemployment rate, fewer people are driving to jobs, Steinman said. It isn't good for our economy but at least it helped with that conformity requirement. An even more important factor was that last summer was unusually cool and damp, with far fewer high-ozone days than usual.

Next up: 2016. That's when Charlotte has to show that it can meet some even stricter ozone rules.


Amy said...

...and (Mary should note) that this id BEFORE mandating the Urban Street Design Guidelines and BEFORE the revised tree ordinance is to go into effect.

Also, interesting to point our that CDOT says high unemployment (fewer commuters) has something to do with the cleaner air - no mention of increased use of telecommuting, flex-time and other technological advancements as a contributing factor. (many of my friends that work uptown only have to physically show up in the office 3 or 4 days a week).

Seems to me that the private sector is solving the problem through market-driven solutions and there is no need for more expensive regulation from our local gov't.

consultant said...

What is it with the constant ANTI regulation fever?

We have way too many people in the country who don't have a clue regarding the proper role of govt.

It is scary and explains why our country is in the fix we're in.

By the way folks, 5 years or so from now, smog is going to be the least of our worries.

Jumper said...

"Off-road vehicles" suggests to me bulldozers, backhoes, front-end loaders, etc. Seems the building boom caused a LOT of air pollution including ozone. Any estimates of how much?
A 2005 San Antonio study:

This is a consideration when Charlotte wants to allow lots of demolition and reconstruction. Seems more prudent to try to find new uses for old structures when possible, and I'm talking about Eastland Mall.

Lana said...

Consultant writes: "We have way too many people in the country who don't have a clue regarding the proper role of govt."

You're right:

A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, WHICH SHALL OTHERWISE LEAVE MEN FREE TO REGULATE THEIR OWN PURSUITS OF INDUSTRY AND IMPROVEMENT, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government. - Thomas Jefferson (emphasis added)

Hmmm... Consultant vs. Thomas Jefferson, just who is the more credible authority?

consultant said...

"Hmmm... Consultant vs. Thomas Jefferson, just who is the more credible authority?"


Jefferson also had slaves and children by one of his slaves. So I'm guessing you support that too. Go ahead and admit it. You know you do.

It's probably too much to ask you to get your head in the 21st century.

Lana said...

I note that Mary has conspicuously chosen to ignore two recent developments concerning her beloved light rail:

1. The closing of Reid's, which sits right at a light rail station. Relevant quote from Reid's owner Chuck Richards: "It (light rail) did not bring us the grocery customer." So much for the fantasy about rail riders abandoning their cars for day-to-day activities such as food shopping.

2. The assault on a Charlotte banker by a group of thugs, as "40-60" other Lynx riders stood watching (and doing nothing to help). Relevant quote from the victim: "Security-wise, after this, I'll find a safer route. Even if it means driving," he said.

Looks like the real smog around here is the cloud of coverup being utilized by Ms. Newsom and her cronies (a search of the Observer website for the name of the guy arrested in the Lynx assault comes up empty).

Lana said...

Thomas Jefferson used his real name. What's yours, consultant?

PS Don't expect your ad hominem to survive more than an hour.

consultant said...

Jefferson and slavery. Did Tom want to protect his "right" to own slaves? Was that why he was so fearful of an increase in federal power?

Why do people want to "own" other people? Who are "you" people? Are you that lazy? Question answered.

We've always been energy hogs in this country.

Before we became addicted to oil and oil imports, we were addicted to importing another source of energy-human beings.

Slavery was our first addiction to getting something for nothing. Fighting for slavery, fighting for oil-same thing.

Here's a suggestion for the "drill baby drill crowd (you know who you are): gather up those t-shirts, go down to the Gulf coast and start sopping up the oil spills that come ashore.

Please do something useful for a change.

consultant said...

"Thomas Jefferson used his real name. What's yours, consultant?"

Iron Man!

I'm in theaters everywhere starting tomorrow.

Brendan said...

Reids didn't fail because it is on the LYNX line, it failed because it is overpriced and nobody lives near it. I live a block from the uptown Harris Teeter (as do thousands others) and it is doing just fine with people walking to it. The LYNX was built mostly for south Charlotte suburban commuters, and that's who mostly uses it. Get on the LYNX during rush hour and it is standing room only. It also gets used plenty by the night-lifers and the sports fans. If you are a retail or dining commercial entity, the LYNX is great to be on, but if you are an essential commercial entity like a grocery store or a convenience store, you have to be located where people live.

Jumper said...

This is from a series of articles on "spring cleaning," what we should get rid of.

Ed Begley Jr. says "lawns."

(LOL - Karl Rove said "exit polls.")

Jumper said...

I bet Jefferson would easily have been persuaded that toxic exhaust or overtapping of community water supply is indeed "injury."

consultant said...

"WASHINGTON - White flight? In a reversal, America's suburbs are now more likely to be home to minorities, the poor and a rapidly growing older population as many younger, educated whites move to cities for jobs and shorter commutes."