Mon, Apr

Being Green, and $howing the Green--Our Infra$tructure Dilemma

ALPERN AT LARGE-Perhaps the greatest challenge to the Environmentalist movement today is its credibility--it has taken on a religious zeal that is almost McCarthyistic in its nature, and while some want to adhere to the "Do as I say!" approach, it's turning off many otherwise-sympathetic, ordinary Americans...and it's threatening our ability to fix our decaying infrastructure. 

And, as with our America n religious affiliations, there is no shortage of Americans who are "spiritual" about environmentalist concerns but not willing to submit to the specific demands of those proclaiming to speak for the rest of us.  Common sense and decency DO exist among ordinary Americans who, like the God-fearing but spiritual Abraham Lincoln, know that:

"When I do good, I feel good.  When I do bad, I feel bad.  That's my religion." 

So when the public transportation industry proclaims itself to be green, and spares us all millions of tons of carbon emissions and billions of gallons of gasoline each year, ordinary Americans know it's true...but those specifics may not apply to their lives, no matter what facts or figures or thrown at them. 

Is there global warming?  Is there climate change?  Is there man-made climate change?  Of course--but questions and controversies abound, and asking Americans to be miserable probably won't fix things as much as encouraging women worldwide to become educated and not obligated to have so many children, achieving global population control, and requiring environmental and infrastructure projects to be both funded...and spent well. 

In other words, asking us all to take a 1-2 hour bus trip each way to work probably won't fix the world as much as trying to find ways to reduce the population in the rising (and surging industrial) economies of India and other rising Third World powers.  Unnecessarily-painful commuting patterns might make us miserable, but won't do much to help our planet. 

In other words, focus on mass transit projects that make fiscal sense (like the Expo Line, and the Wilshire Subway, and the Downtown Los Angeles Light Rail subway connector, and connecting LAX to the Metro Rail system and to Union Station), instead of beautiful but horrifically-expensive transit centers like the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) that will see a $2 million deficit within the first 6 months (LINK: ), and threaten Anaheim's funding for police, fire, parks, libraries and road repairs. 

In other words, if electric vehicles are too expensive and undesired by many Americans, who are trading in their hybrids and electric vehicles for SUV's in record numbers, then perhaps that industry needs to go back to the drawing board instead of screaming and belittling these Americans. 

In other words, if rooftop solar panels are still too darned expensive for most mere mortals to pay for, and if other ratepayers and taxpayers are forced to subsidize those who do install them, perhaps a better and more affordable model for installation, with tax credits for all who make the switch to solar energy, should be pursued to truly help the environment. 

In other words, if the LADWP work force is ridiculously and disgracefully overpaid, then a 5-10% pay cut (or at least a 5-10 year pay freeze) for this work force should be bravely pursued if we really want the City of Los Angeles to fund and fix its sewer and water pipe infrastructure system. 

In other words, if a Measure R-2 is going to be promoted for taxpayers to (again!) pay more to fund a woefully-overdue LA County transportation system, then making sure that developers and large businesses properly pay into their own funding obligations is only fair and decent. 

In other words, if Metrolink is going to extend into growing and more populated areas of Southern California, a modernization of the system that coordinates with LA MetroRail and connects to all of our airports is also only fair and decent, as well as the need to have sufficient parking in that it would create a system that all of us can access and reasonably use. 

Littering and wasting both energy and water, and not preserving our environment, is a no-brainer. Ditto for coming up with attractive (not contrived or forced, but attractive) new ideas to improve our economy and environment at the same time. 

But the religious fervor of "being green" is more than beginning to hurt the "showing the green" we need to do in restoring and improving our infrastructure. 

Let's do good, and let's throttle back the belittling of others who question the methods (or even the motives, if they're unsavory and harmful to the majority) of those claiming to have all the answers on all things environmental.  After all, no human being speaks for our planet any more than they speak for God. 

Let's fix the environment.  Let's fix the economy.  Let's fix the quality of life for ourselves and our fellow Americans. 

But--as with modern-day religion--winning over taxpaying Americans, who are just trying to live their lives, to pay for our infrastructure will not successfully be done with browbeating and tossing out endless studies and figures and threats. 

Americans don't need to be told how to do good.  When they do good, they'll know it.  And it will feel good, indeed.


(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the  nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at Alpern@MarVista.org  He also does regular commentary on the Mark Isler Radio Show on AM 870, and co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)







Vol 13 Issue 34

Pub: Apr 24, 2015