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The ICC: Inter-County Connector and Impeller of Climate Change
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by Greg Smith | 2007

The ICC won’t be just a scourge on the local environment; it’ll be a contributor to the greenhouse gases that scourge the planet. Tell Governor O’Malley to quash it now!

We are used to thinking about the Inter-County Connector (ICC), the proposed toll road through Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, in terms of stream and forest and neighborhood destruction. We are used to thinking about fighting global warming in terms of solar power, green buildings and hybrid cars. In fact, the ICC and global warming are intimately linked.

Scientists say we have ten years to turn CO2 levels in the atmosphere from rising levels to falling levels. Our approach to transportation and land use will play a big role in determining if we meet this goal.

 

The ICC’s Effect on Global Warming: Like Throwing Gasoline on a Roaring Bonfire 

Four reports released in May should convince Governor O’Malley and other elected officials to drop the ICC now, before wasting millions of tax dollars attempting to defend the indefensible in court and before taking any more homes or land for the ICC.

First, in early May, the Washington Post reported that global warming emissions from power plants and motor vehicles in the Washington region rose by more than 13 percent between 2001 and 2005—twice as fast as the national average.  If this is a trend, and if it continues, the region’s power plant and vehicle emissions could double by 2025.

Second, in mid-May, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration released findings that average summer time temperatures in the eastern United States may soar by 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the mid-2080s—several degrees hotter and perhaps decades faster than previously predicted.

Third, in late May, the Global Carbon Project and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences reported that since 2000, worldwide emissions have risen three times faster than in the 1990s.  If this trend continues, worldwide emissions could double in less than 25 years.

Fourth, on May 23, the Washington Council of Governments released preliminary findings that, without serious reduction measures, emissions from motor vehicles in our national capital region will increase by nearly 50 percent between 2002 and 2030.

Building the ICC would be the equivalent of throwing gasoline on this already-roaring bonfire, and feeding the fire three billion dollar-bills.  Increased driving stimulated by the ICC likely would wipe out most of the emissions reductions that might be achieved in Montgomery County through Maryland’s brand new Clean Cars Act.

Three major transportation studies in 10 years have predicted that the ICC would sharply increase automobile use in the Washington region.  On some roads, such as I-495, it would worsen congestion, not ease it.  The latest such study, the 2006 Bush-Ehrlich Environmental Impact Study (EIS), predicted that the ICC would increase vehicle miles traveled in the ICC Study Area (much of Montgomery County and part of northwestern Prince George’s County) by 20 percent, or 700 million miles per year—excluding automobile trips generated by the sprawl that the ICC would help trigger in Frederick, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and perhaps Anne Arundel counties.  The 2001 Transportation Policy Report, published by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and the 1997 Draft EIS published by the administrations of President Clinton and Governor Glendening  offered similarly disturbing results.

 

Concern about global warming should persuade the governor to abandon the ICC

The first step to slowing, then stopping, global warming is to kill projects and programs likely to  boost global warming emissions.  The second is to implement the types of energy efficiency and clean energy measures called for by the Sierra Club and other organizations.  Quite simply, Maryland cannot cut global warming emissions rapidly enough if we waste billions of dollars speeding in the wrong direction.

Concern about global warming should persuade Governor O’Malley to abandon the ICC.  With our local, state and federal governments facing massive budget shortfalls, with the Chesapeake Bay and many of its tributaries decades behind in their recovery, with petroleum becoming increasingly expensive in all terms, and with three major studies in 10 years showing that this $3+ billion project would do little or nothing to relieve congestion, the Governor has many reasons to abandon the ICC project and no good reason to pursue it.      

 

Take Three Steps to Tell the Governor to Abandon the ICC

1.  Write and call Governor O’Malley as soon as possible.  Urge him to drop the ICC, stop taking homes and land for the ICC, invest in public transit, and put Maryland on the path to sustainability. 

Please e-mail him, then write him via fax or regular mail, then call.

E-mail:  governor@gov.state.md.us

Phone: (800) 811-8336

Fax:   410- 974-3275

Mailing Address: 

100 State Circle

Annapolis,   MD 21401-1925

 

2.  Share this issue of  Chesapeake with friends, neighbors, and local officials in your community.  Fact sheets on the cost of the ICC and the General Assembly Letter can be found at:  http://maryland.sierraclub.org/

 

3.  Sign the Sierra Club’s on-line petition to stop the ICC, and join us to promote climate-friendly, community-friendly alternatives to highways and sprawl.

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