Environment Local News

Kentuckians Urged: Drive Less This Summer

The arrival of summer in Louisville can also mean the arrival of air quality alert days.  The culprits are vehicle emissions from burning motor fuel combined with hotter temperatures.  And the result is often levels of ozone or soot that aren’t safe for people who are vulnerable to breathing problems.  This year the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet wants to encourage motorists to drive less.  Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe says they will spend $200,000 dollars on ads as well as an online survey about air quality.

“We will be looking at things such as the number of web hits.  We’ll have some help analyzing how many people heard the various broadcast promotions or advertisements.  And we will know how many people took the survey,” says Wolfe.

The Cabinet is also encouraging people to learn more about ways to reduce driving.  Beyond bicycling, carpooling, and taking public transportation, Wolfe says Kentuckians should consider living closer to work and school.  They can also help curb suburban sprawl by promoting developments with mixed land uses.

Local News

Surge in New Residential Construction Permits in Cities

Some metropolitan communities may be attracting more residents from the suburbs and rural areas.  That’s according to a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s John Thomas.

“The real central question here is when you look at the whole central metropolitan area, is there a change in the share of that new residential construction happening downtown relative to the suburban counties, and that’s what I was finding.  And again, it’s not universal is I think one of the other interesting take home messages,” says Thomas.

The trend is most pronounced among the coastal cities as well as in Chicago and Atlanta.  But metro areas like Louisville and other Midwestern cities are not seeing their share of downtown residential developments jump dramatically.  Thomas says the reasons could be anything from lack of development money to the need to rezone a property.

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Landmark California Legislation Fights Sprawl

It was touch and go there for a while, but on the last day of official bill signing, according to this Sacramento Bee report, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the nation’s first bill to take a comprehensive whack at sprawl. The bill’s main mechanism is links the transportation funding the California doles out with state climate policies. It establishes incentives for more compact housing developments. And it also requires individual regions of the state to set greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2010.

Not everyone was wildly in favor of the legislation. Some local governments opposed it because of concerns over losing transportation funding; some businesses had their hackles raised over the extra regulation. Considering the number of miles Californians drive, and the expected increase in the state’s population, environmentalists hope the legislation will keep greenhouse gas emissions from worsening.

Kentucky may not have the population numbers California does, but we and our neighboring states do face questions over how we’ll handle sprawl in the future. California’s law could hold some interesting answers.