Twenty years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a new rule for cities with dirty air, such as Charlotte: Show that your road-building plans will complement efforts to clean the air — or risk losing critical highway construction dollars.
But today the federal process is full of loopholes, the Observer has found.
City transportation planners changed data that essentially took one in three cars off the road, enabling them to show less pollution. They also have made overly optimistic forecasts about how often people would use mass transit. And despite evidence that building more highways causes people to drive farther, the city has told the EPA the opposite: Building billions of dollars of new highways will cause Charlotteans to drive less, and create less smog, than if they weren't built. Those questionable projections have helped keep highway dollars flowing to Charlotte.
Read the full story at charlotteobserver.com.