Build it and they will sue

Build it and they will sue – Nevada

Look over a highway planner’s conceptual drawings for a new freeway, and you’ll most likely see blue skies and little traffic. But those rosy images fail to account for the high levels of polluted air that new and expanded urban roadways bring with them. In Las Vegas, Sierra Club members hope they have found a way to make the process a bit more realistic. When the federal government failed to consider health consequences as well as mass-transit alternatives in its proposal to widen U.S. Highway 95 from six to ten lanes, the Club sued to stop the project. It’s the first time a suit has been based on scientific research linking traffic-generated pollution to cancer.

It likely won’t be the last. Studies have connected highway pollution to increased childhood leukemia risk in Denver, tagged vehicles as the culprit for air-pollution related cancer risk in Southern California, and linked heavy truck traffic to elevated asthma rates in Buffalo. Club-sponsored research concluded that widening U.S. 95 would cause up to 1,400 more cancers per one million people over 70 years, more than ten times what the EPA considers a serious risk. Even in the gambling capital of America, that’s a chance many people don’t want to take.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Sierra Magazine

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group