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Culture Change print magazine issues: 20  19  18  17  16  15  14  13  12  11  10  9  8  index

Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
Press Releases

Long Distance


Highway Greenwashing through Federal ISTEA-NEXTEA funding

by Jan Lundberg

With upcoming reauthorization of federal transportation funds, billions of dollars are about to be misspent on more destructive paving and car-dependency. The White House's National Economic Crossroads Surface Transportation and Efficiency Act (NEXTEA) perpetuates the Intermodal Surface Transportation and Efficiency Act (ISTEA) legislation passed by Bush, at an eleven percent increase in funding.

Whether it is the administration's bill or a worse one from Congress, our "leaders" don't hesitate to commit our nation to more decades of oil guzzling. They are guilty of tearing up dwindling farmland and wildlife habitat. We'll run out of domestic oil by approximately 2020, though many remain confident of some technofix. It is naive to blame politicians for more roads when corporate and industrial interests installed so many Congresspersons to approve fast-buck development.

Roads no longer epitomize progress or symbolize mobility when there are too many roads to maintain with available dollars. Traffic congestion is the reality of the American road, but more roads and more lanes are added which generate more traffic.

A turn for the better was taken in 1991 when ISTEA was kicked off by Senator Daniel T. Moynihan who shocked Washington: "We have poured enough concrete." Moneys started going not only to highway building and maintenance, but to trains and bicycle facilities, and-wow-decisions became based in part on local public input. Although good reforms passed into law and environmental-transportation groups declared victory for cleaner air, etc., the increase in road building dollars was in the billions. The fledgling Alliance for a Paving Moratorium sounded its warning, to no avail.

NEXTEA represents about $5.5 billion annual expenditure in additional new roads and lanes, not including additional funds from states and counties. The $5.5 billion is a conservative estimate, but could be lessened by counter-highway decisions at the state and metropolitan levels. Maintenance will still take a back seat, resulting in continued huge losses in motorists' time, money, fuel and lives. This has happened decade after decade because road builders and developers cannot make big bucks filling potholes. Bulldozers must be fired up to and move earth and pay for themselves.

Road building agencies get in on the act by pushing for more roads and widenings on bogus claims which include "safety." But wider or straightened roads only invite higher speeds, heightening pedestrians' risks. ISTEA doesn't change this. Our fast-lane economy is treating children and the elderly as expendable, at fault for not all being "safe" in cars. Quiet, small roads are targeted for extinction because they are just plain old fashioned. Some things that our country has lost make people finally question "progress," when we remember that an outdated source of making of clothes was from hemp fiber grown in backyards. It is even more so today that we are expected to accept whatever the corporate elite want.

This brings up NAFTA Superhighways. A grassroots campaign to stop it has started. We're up against the corrupt feds and their corporate masters. A pleasant surprise would be for Hillary Clinton to weigh in for a paving moratorium: if she is serious about villages raising children, it's kind of hard to have community when roadbuilding takes out the trees, leaving a lethal zone.

Although ISTEA was some improvement in policy, a Washington transportation-reform advocate admitted to Auto-Free Times magazine that "The public participation aspect of ISTEA is not working." Highways are still just rammed through. APM does advocate going to those transportation hearings, but we'll have to keep following up with lawsuits, protests and direct-action to put the Earth first and moneyed politics last. A lot of people need to turn off the TV and those absurd car commercials.

Under ISTEA nothing was accomplished for lowering the human fatality toll. This failure was added to by raising the speed limit, sales of millions of vehicles of doubtful safety, and increases in miles traveled per motorist. NEXTEA would barely affect these monstrous situations. Meanwhile, the world's single biggest contribution to the greenhouse effect globally is the U.S. car fleet's carbon dioxide emission. Making cars electric does not solve safety, land-use or even energy and pollution problems.

It would be great to transport people to jobs and back home with renewable energy-powered trains. But transportation is not an end in itself, so we in the paving moratorium movement do not declare victory when rail and bikes get more crumbs from the table.

NEXTEA would just perpetuate this, with a couple of niceties thrown in, such as freeway users' paying tolls. The NEXTEA idea of day-care centers at transit stations is rather sad, as if children don't need Nature, and can be treated like cars or kenneled pets.

Activist Alert: Contact your Congressperson to 1) urge repair of roads rather than expanding roads, 2) improve bike facilities, 3) support AMTRAK!


Articles of interest:
Measuring and controlling the actions of governments 

Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results. 
WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius 

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.


Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California. Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)

Culture Change mailing address: P.O. Box 3387 , Santa Cruz , California 95063 USA
  Telephone 1-215-243-3144 (and fax)

Culture Change was founded by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit torganization.