Monday, November 9, 2015

The Problems with Connecticut Climate Change Policy - Part 3: The War on Cars


(This is a video presentation of the following analysis.)
(Click here for an .mp3 download of this presentation)

In the first two parts of this series we discussed the fallacy that man-made global warming is a fact, as well as how the methodologies that the state is using to calculate its supposed effects are not accurate.  We are now going to examine one of the proposals that is constantly offered by state officials as a combative action towards fighting man-made global warming; the reduction of private motor vehicles.

Regular readers of The Goodman Chronicle are already aware that the state of Connecticut has a policy of reducing private motor vehicle usage.  A recent example of this happened on December 3, 2014, when Connecticut state officials met with "transportation advocates" to discuss the future of transportation in Connecticut.  The discussion mainly focused on ways to further restrict private motor vehicle ownership, and usage, through measures such as an increase in the gasoline tax, toll roads, and more.

This analysis will show, using Connecticut climate change documents, how this anti-car philosophy in the state is derived from the idea that man-made global warming is a real and pressing issue in our society.

(It should be pointed out in the beginning of this analysis that this desire to reduce the amount of private motor vehicles is only one part of a much larger plan to concentrate people into highly regulated, dense neighborhoods, with public transportation being the main form of transportation.  This type of centralized planning is known as "smart growth", and will receive its own analysis in a later section of this multi-series report.)

The state believes that they need to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) by one million metric tons per year, over the next forty years.  According to their calculations this is equivalent to the emissions from over 190,000 passenger vehicles each year.

One option that the state has considered to deal with the GHG coming out of vehicles is to increase the taxes on cars that emit high levels of GHG, and offer tax breaks to consumers who purchased low GHG emitting vehicles.  This is known as a feebate program.  As a result of this policy, governments hope to encourage auto manufacturers to produce cars with less GHG emission.  Connecticut has yet to pursue this policy, however the federal government does have a similar program that offers tax incentives to consumers of "eco-friendly" cars.

Encouraging car manufacturers to make cars with less GHG emission is an option that the state continues to pursue, however they admit that this will not be enough to reach their target goal, in terms of passenger vehicle GHG emission:
"Connecticut’s increasingly cleaner cars will be overshadowed by the fact that we continue to drive more"
Because making cars "cleaner" will not be enough to reduce GHG emission to the level that the state would like, they pursue a policy of forcing people out of their cars and onto public transportation.  This is done by increasing the cost of driving:
"Implement a tax on driving (gasoline, toll, or mileage-based insurance) that would be channeled in its entirety to a dedicated fund to subsidize mass transit, walking, and bicycling."
Throughout the Connecticut climate change documents, there are various tactics recommended to state agencies in an effort to discourage the use of private motor vehicles.  One of these tactics includes adding tolls to roads.  Formulas have been developed to calculate how much of an increase in the cost of driving is needed to reduce private motor vehicle trips, as can be seen by this excerpt taken from a 2004 state document pertaining to climate change:
"A recent Connecticut report completed an analysis of travel demand mode shifts that would result from a value-pricing toll of $0.20 per mile in the southwest Connecticut corridor.  ConnDOT’s travel-demand model predicted that this pricing measure alone would create a 6 percent reduction in drive-alone trips, an increase in new rail trips of 72 percent, and an increase in bus use of 25 percent. The results are consistent with the results of the 1994 COMSIS Transportation Control Measure study, which indicated that a highway value toll of $0.10 per mile was expected to reduce VMT by 3.5 percent." 
The 2005 Connecticut Climate Change Action Plan states that getting us out of our cars will not only be good for the environment, but it will also improve our health as a society.  The idea seems to be that if the state can get people to use their bicycle or walk instead of taking their car, this will have health improvements for the individual.
"Health benefits from increased mobility. Auto­centric development patterns have  decreased mobility among adults and children, reducing opportunities for walking and  bike riding. The Surface Transportation Policy Project released a report this year  demonstrating a statistically significant correlation between sprawl, obesity, and  hypertension. Research suggests that people in compact, mixed­use areas reap benefits from increased opportunities to integrate walking and biking into their everyday  routines.  Smart growth seeks to encourage centralized, mixed­use communities with well­ developed pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Given the myriad health costs associated with inactivity, creating opportunities for increased mobility through smart  growth has a clear (although unquantified in this analysis) economic value."
Of course taking your bicycle, or walking, to the park, on a nice sunny day, instead of using your car sounds like a nice idea, but when it is raining, cold, or snowing, and you have to get work, school, appointments, etc., waiting around for public transportation would be a terrible scenario, and in many cases, unfeasible.  The many positive benefits of having your own private motor vehicle is never stressed in these documents.

The possible list of quotes and citations from these Connecticut climate change documents pertaining to the reduction of private motor vehicles is nearly endless.  We could go on, but you get the point.  The state of Connecticut has taken the position that the Earth is warming, humans are causing the warming, and reducing the number of cars on the road will help stop the warming.

In the next analysis we will take an inquisitive look into the groups behind the creation of these policies and their curious connection with Rockefeller family-related organizations.

Previous reports on Connecticut climate change: