Does the State Senate’s MTA Plan Pass Environmental Muster?

brodsky.jpgWhere’s the Assembly’s eco-warrior when you need him?

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.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Outstanding post.

    Even among the few state legislators who are no completely brain-dead — Brodsky’s one of them — MTA financing isn’t really even viewed as a transportation policy or environmental issue. The legislators just see it as a budget matter. As Brodsky and friends showed repeatedly during the congestion pricing debate, the whole concept that fare and toll prices have an impact on transportation choice and the environment is just completely foreign to them. They don’t get it, nor do they care to think about it. For them, it’s really just a question of how much money does the MTA say they need, how much are we going to give them and where’s the least politically painful places to get it?

  • glenn

    Yes, that’s exactly it. NY’s legislators are “enablers” to the happy motoring public, even if they are a minority

  • This should be a simple question to ask anyone running for office:

    1. Do you believe it is a goal of public policy to reduce (noisy, polluting, congesting, etc) automobile usage in New York City?

    2. If so, how would you propose to achieve that?

    If they don’t answer yes to #1 or have a compelling answer to #2, then they are definitely not on our side.

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