Why is the Sierra Club Opposing Atlanta's Transportation Tax Referendum?

Atlanta area residents will go to the polls on July 31st to vote on a one-cent sales tax increase that provides an opportunity to transform mobility and growth patterns for decades to come. So why is the Sierra Club of Georgia opposing the measure?

As Angie Schmitt notes, Atlanta's transportation referendum, the Transportation Investment Act (TIA), would provide more than $7 billion for transportation projects, over the ten years in which the tax increase would be in place, with $3.14 billion dedicated to mass transit projects. However, in opposing the measure, the Sierra Club is holding out for a better deal.

In what may be a politically naive stance, "The Sierra Club hopes that after the referendum is defeated, a new proposal funded by the gas tax with 'a fix-it-first roads strategy' 'that emphasizes transit expansion and improvement' will emerge, according to a statement from the group printed in the local alt-weekly, Creative Loafing."

"The Sierra Club plan sounds like great transportation policy, but it currently lacks the political and organizational support underpinning TIA. And compared to the region's current transportation, TIA is pretty good policy. If Atlanta lets the current moment slip by, there's no telling when the region will have another good opportunity to raise billions in revenue for transit," argues Schmitt.

"The Atlanta Journal Constitution noted that the rest of the region's environmental groups were either supportive of the referendum or were keeping mum."

Full Story: Atlanta Transpo Referendum Draws an Unlikely Opponent in Local Sierra Club



Balanced Transportation Spending

I think the Sierra Club is right on this one. The idea that any environmental group would support freeway expansion in 2012 is a bit weird. Transit and freeways together are a great way to greenwash freeways and cook the planet.

Eric Doherty
Ecopath Planning, Vancouver BC Canada

Irvin Dawid's picture

Why Sierra Club Opposes Atlanta sales tax measure

Thanks, Eric. Agreed.....but the point the reporter makes is that it may very well be this measure or nothing - is holding out for a better measure smart or naive?

I don't know - but I do think there is a place in our political system for groups, or candidates, to be bold and stake out a 'correct' position regardless of the political consequences. Often such groups are viewed as being "ahead of their time".

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

Irvin Dawid's picture

Shrewd Move Pays off for Sierra Club

By boldly opposing the measure, as opposed to the endorsement given by their enviro' and transpo allies including The Southern Environmental Law Center and The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition as described on July 25 in AJC: Environmental groups tout support for T-SPLOST, try to blunt Sierra Club's opposition, the Club will no doubt find itself playing an important role in "Plan B", as suggested in Atlanta CBS: Now that T-SPLOST is dead, what's next?

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

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