The Municipal Art Society came out with a report yesterday urging New York State to start analyzing greenhouse gas emissions in its environmental review process (SEQRA). MAS argues that the policy could be adopted without changing existing laws, which raises an interesting question to ponder on this Earth Day afternoon: Would the State Senate’s latest MTA funding plan pass muster if it were subject to an EIS that factors in climate change?
The MTA rescue package does not, in fact, fall under the purview of SEQRA, even though it’s probably the most important piece of climate policy that the state legislature will consider this year. The Senate’s latest stab would keep the trains and buses running for a few more months, but it’s an eco-stinker compared to the Ravitch plan and any other package that includes road pricing or tolls on currently free bridges.
Let’s go back to the spring of 2008. Remember all the carping from Richard Brodsky and other state legislators about congestion pricing not going through the SEQRA process? That was regarding a policy projected to take 112,000 cars off the road each day. Now we have an MTA funding plan getting serious consideration that would create worse traffic bottlenecks and more incentives to drive, but so far not even a peep about environmental consequences from Albany.