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Air Pollution and Transportation Policy Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Should Be Addressed by Technology, Not Behavior PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Air Pollution and Transportation Policy Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Should Be Addressed by Technology, Not Behavior Joel Schwartz Visiting Fellow American Enterprise Institute June 25, 2005 Addressing Air Quality through Transportation Policy 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and 1991 ISTEA

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Air Pollution and Transportation PolicyMotor Vehicle Air Pollution Should Be Addressed by Technology, Not Behavior

Joel Schwartz

Visiting Fellow

American Enterprise Institute

June 25, 2005


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Addressing Air Quality through Transportation Policy

  • 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and 1991 ISTEA

    • Require that transportation policy be constrained by air quality goals

    • Conformity: Regional transportation plans must “conform” to regional air quality plans—that is, planned road projects must not cause future motor vehicle emissions to exceed levels permitted by air quality plans

      • Lose federal transportation funds if fail to demonstrate conformity

    • ISTEA and CAA “arguably made air quality the premier objective of the nation’s surface transportation programs.”

  • NEPA provides a separate means to challenge road projects, potentially causing years of delay


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Two Ways to Reduce Motor Vehicle Emissions

  • Improve Technology

    • Inherently cleaner cars

      • Improve on existing gasoline technology

      • Develop alternative fuel technologies

  • Change Behavior

    • Induce people to drive less

      • Make driving more expensive, less convenient

      • Provide alternative modes, such as transit

      • Change land use to support alternatives and discourage driving

    • Induce people to maintain their cars better


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Only Improving Gasoline Technology Has Been both Effective and Cost Effective

  • Federal and state policies include all methods, but only technology has been effective and only gasoline-based technology has been cost effective for reducing motor vehicle emissions

  • Technology has stayed and will continue to stay way ahead of increases in total driving

  • Behavioral methods have been and continue to be a costly failure, and a distraction from approaches that would genuinely bring cleaner air faster

  • Behavioral approaches are still popular, because they serve anti-suburb, anti-automobile, and energy-rationing goals of policymakers and activists


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Air Quality/Transportation/Land Use Policy Link Goes Back to 1970s

  • Clean Air Act linked transportation and air quality

    • 1970 Clean Air Act required transportation control plans

    • Conformity in 1977; strengthened in 1990

  • States refused to implement TCPs in early 1970s. EPA was forced by court order to promulgate federal TCPs in 1973

    • SF Bay Area TCP: “a VMT reduction of 97 percent is necessary if the national standard for photochemical oxidants is to be attained by 1977.”

    • Plan included limits on construction of parking lots, parking surcharges, carpool lanes, employer rideshare, transit, etc.

      • EPA reluctantly included a provision for gasoline rationing, but said such rationing would be needed to attain the standards in 1977

    • Also vehicle inspection and retrofit programs

  • States still refused to implement the plans and EPA lacked institutional capacity for federal implementation.

    • Congress took away EPA’s authority to implement pricing or restrict parking

  • 1977 CAA amendments added weak conformity requirement, but did not require restrictions on personal travel

    • Highway funds could be withheld only if states failed to submit an acceptable air quality plan


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Huge Declines In Air Pollution Despite Huge Increases in Driving

  • Total VMT more than doubled between 1975 and 2003, but air pollution of all kinds declined substantially

  • Fine particulate matter measurements started later

    • PM2.5 declined nearly 50% between 1980 and 2004

  • Today, entire nation attains federal standards for NO2, SO2, and CO

    • Near full attainment for PM10 and 1-hour ozone

    • Only tougher new standards—PM2.5 and 8-hour ozone—remain an attainment challenge

Sources: EPA, FDOT


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Vehicle Emissions Improvements Continue to Stay Well Ahead of Growth

Emission trend in SF Bay Area Tunnel: Car/SUV VOC emission rate is dropping about 13%/year; gasoline consumption is increasing about 2.7%/year in fast-growing areas of California. So total VOC still declining more than 10%/year.

Sources: Kirchstetter, Kean, Harley (UC Berkeley), Caltrans.


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Fleet Turnover Will Continue to Clean the Air

  • At any given age, more-recent vehicle models are cleaner than earlier models

    • Means fleet turnover will continue to clean the air as earlier models leave the fleet

    • SUVs and pickups started out worse, but improved more rapidly than cars

      • SUV/pickup emissions have been same as cars since 1996 model year for VOC; 2001 model year for NOx

Denver vehicle inspection data, 1996-2002


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Improvements will continue

Automobile emissions are dropping about 10%/year as fleet turns over to inherently cleaner cars, SUVs, pickups

Fleet meeting 2004 EPA standards—the fleet that will be on the road in 15-20 years—will be at least 90% cleaner per-mile than current average car

Net reductions of more than 80%, even after accounting for VMT growth

Diesel truck standards were tightened in 1998 and 2003. Additional 90% reduction required in 2007

But anti-automobile activists aren’t aware of the real-world data

“sprawl and higher-emitting SUVs are proliferating faster than technological fixes can keep up.” – David Goldberg, Smart Growth America in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution 2003

More Highways, More Pollution, 2004 report by Public Interest Research Group

Motor vehicle air pollution has been solved as a long-term problem


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EPA’s Emissions Model Also Predicts Near-Elimination of Emissions

  • EPA’s MOBILE6 emissions model prediction

  • Recent data suggest the model understates future improvements

    • Model overestimates emissions of recent models and underestimates emissions of older models


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Can We Get there Faster? If So, How?

  • Worst 5% of automobiles produce 50% of tailpipe volatile organic compound emissions

    • Mainly middle-aged and older vehicles in poor repair

    • Identify these vehicles on the road with remote sensing and offer owners money to scrap

    • There are only so many 1982 Buick Regals left on the road. Once you scrap them, they’re gone for good.

  • Cost would be no more than a few thousand dollars per ton of ozone- and particulate-forming emissions eliminated and probably less


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What About Behavioral Measures?

  • Ineffective and very expensive

    • Hundreds of billions in transit subsidies over the last few decades, but transit’s market share continues to decline

      • Even with proponents’ own cost and emissions numbers, light-rail costs more than $1 million/ton of pollution eliminated; heavy rail costs more than $100,000/ton

        • Regulators normally don’t consider a measure cost effective unless is costs less than about $10,000/ton

    • Density does little to reduce driving: doubling density is associated with 10% decline in per-capita VMT

      • Increase in congestion offsets some or all emission gains

    • Indirect source fees miss the target: people who can afford to buy new houses or shop at suburban malls don’t drive high-polluting cars

    • Most other behavioral measures cost a few hundred thousand per ton: e.g., bike/pedestrian paths, employer trip reduction.

  • Europe’s experience also shows limits of behavioral policies

    • Europe is experiencing rapid growth in per-capita driving and suburbanization and declining transit market share, despite $5/gal gasoline and better transit.


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Tying Transportation Policy to Behavioral Air Quality Measures Imposes Huge Costs

  • Diversion of hundreds of billions of dollars to transportation modes that hardly anyone chooses to use

  • Increases in road congestion erode benefits of automobile travel

  • Unnecessary and undesirable constraints on people’s lifestyle choices and mobility


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A Better Way

  • Acknowledge that technology has solved the long-term problem of motor vehicle air pollution

    • Fleet turnover will eliminate most remaining motor vehicle pollution

  • Deal with near-term conformity problems by addressing current high-polluting cars

    • This is the quickest and cheapest way to near-term emission reductions

  • Focus transportation infrastructure and policy decisions on people’s real transportation needs


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Contact information

  • Joel Schwartz

  • [email protected]

  • 916.203.6309

  • www.joelschwartz.com


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