Not Only Are Kentuckians Racist, We’re Polluters Too

C-J Traffic Photo

(above photo of yesterday’s traffic from the Courier-Journal)

Just when you thought that the post-primary spotlight on Kentucky in the national media might go away, guess what? Our state is back in the news due to the heavy “carbon footprint” that Louisville and Lexington add to the atmosphere (from the C-J):

Residents of Louisville and Lexington are among the worst contributors to climate change, according to a study of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

Researchers with Washington’s Brookings Institution blame factors such as sprawling development that encourages driving rather than walking, biking or mass transit, and the cities’ reliance on cheap, coal-fueled electricity.

Its list — which measured carbon emissions per resident based on per capita emissions from residential and highway energy use in 2005 — puts Lexington at the top of a list of offenders, and Louisville fifth.

Thankfully, Louisville Metro government is on hand to give a good spin to our filthy habits:

While the ranking could be a public relations issue for leaders trying to attract industry and new residents, Louisville has made strides in recent years to improve air quality, add cycling lanes and begin a detailed study of the city’s carbon output, said Bruce Traughber, the city’s economic development director.

“We’ll know by the end of the year, early next year what our strategies are going to be,” he said. “We’re going to push forward and we’re going to have an impact.”

The other cities with the largest population-adjusted “carbon footprints” — Indianapolis, Toledo and Cincinnati — have the same energy patterns that contribute to high emissions.

“These areas tend to use a lot of relatively dirty fuels for their electricity,” said Andrea Sarzynski, a Brookings analyst and study co-author. “So we know the Appalachian region, for instance, relies fairly heavily on coal,” which produces more carbon than other energy sources.

So what are we, as a state, doing to address this mess? A tax credit! Sweet!

The General Assembly earlier this year passed legislation that includes incentives such as tax credits of up to $500 to help cover the cost of installing insulation, energy-efficient windows and other features.

Last month, the state’s largest homebuilders began a program to encourage environmentally friendly homes.

The Brookings Institution recommends a range of policy actions on the federal, state and local levels to help cities reduce their carbon emissions.

They include promoting more transportation choices such as mass transit and developing parcels closer to city centers rather than promoting urban sprawl.

No real word in the article from either city or state officials about improving Louisville’s or Lexington’s public transit systems, of course. Perhaps we’ll have to wait for gas to be $8, maybe $9 a gallon ’til then. But wait, we’ve actually signed something pledging a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions?…

Louisville and Lexington are among five Kentucky cities whose mayors have signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ climate protection agreement, striving to meet or exceed the Kyoto Protocol’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Jackie Green, an activist who supports increasing access to public transportation, said that he believes the Brookings finding underscores his belief that Kentucky law should allow gasoline taxes to be spent on public transportation.

TARC still has no dedicated funding we can depend on for operations year in and year out,” he said.

Building new roads, such as the $4.1 billion Ohio River Bridges Project, won’t help cities reduce their carbon footprint, Mark Muro, public policy director for Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program, said.

Traughber defended the project, saying that economic development and reducing carbon emissions are part of a balancing act.

“If we can’t move freight across the Ohio River in an expeditious fashion … you may have a little lower carbon footprint, but you’ve got a lot lower standard of living, and I’m not sure that’s where the citizens of Louisville want to be,” he said.

Ah, the old “lower standard of living” canard. While the prospect (heh) of not getting to go to Rich-o’s or the Georgetown Drive-In would suck, guess what? We ALREADY HAVE BRIDGES ACROSS THE OHIO. It’s ridiculous that Traughber even flouts the idea that the Ohio River Bridges Project should be the only “public” transportation initiative for, what, the next thirty years? Maybe if the project wasn’t so BLOATED with cost overruns there’d be more money to spend on, say, light rail? Louisville’s public transportation (or more accurately, lack thereof) is a problem NOW, and the local government’s failure to lead on this issue for the pasty twenty, maybe even thirty years is appalling. Wake up, Jerry. We’re gonna need something more than just some East End bridge and a bus that crosses it once an hour.

/RANT OVER

Whew.

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2 Responses to “Not Only Are Kentuckians Racist, We’re Polluters Too”

  1. goodtimepolitics Says:

    Don’t forget when Obama becomes president he will raise the capital gains taxes from 15% to 28% just to help you Kentucky people out more. But I do have to ask, how can you be racist against Obama when he is as much white as he is black or doesn’t he agree? 🙂

  2. stateofthecommonwealth Says:

    Are you talking to me? You don’t seem to be really addressing what I wrote. But thanks anyway.

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