Clean Communities on the Move: A Partnership Driven-Approach to Clean Air and Smart Transportation

Local governments are on the front lines of pollution and transportation planning and are uniquely situated to influence clean air and smart transportation innovation. Across America, local communities are striving to keep the air clean and healthy while they face the compounding challenges of choking traffic congestion, increasing vehicle emissions, and sprawling growth patterns. These challenges will increase as additional communities struggle with designations of nonattainment for ozone or fine particulate matter pollution under new federal Clean Air Act standards.

The National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals (NALGEP) represents local communities across the nation who are seeking innovative approaches to their environmental and community challenges. In 2000, NALGEP issued the Profiles in Local Clean Air Innovation report, which called for new voluntary tools to complement command-and-control approaches to clean air. Since that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched several initiatives, including the Clean Air Transportation Communities (CATC) effort to sponsor 10 pilot demonstration projects that show how voluntary transportation practices can improve the quality of the air, health, and environment in localities.

This Clean Communities on the Move report examines the contributions that voluntary approaches are making to achieving clean air goals around the nation and draws lessons about how federal, state, and local officials can better work together to make these programs more effective and commonplace. The report is a culmination of a partnership between EPA and NALGEP to coordinate the 10 CATC pilot projects, research additional approaches to voluntary local clean air innovation, and identify lessons learned from these emerging community efforts. The project received guidance from a "Clean Air Communities Task Force" of 50 local officials, EPA officials, and representatives of national organizations representing communities.

This report concludes that promoting voluntary clean air initiatives at the local level should continue to be a vital concern of state and federal policy makers. Many of the projects highlighted in this report are resulting in substantial emissions reductions and – if spread to more communities across America – could make major contributions to cleaner and healthier air. At the same time, these initiatives are improving local quality of life by providing more local transportation and lifestyle choices and promoting wiser and more sustainable development patterns that are more amenable to family life and community building. However, these innovative clean air approaches could remain the exception without more investment, better regulatory incentives, and significant attention to how the impacts of voluntary programs can be measured and integrated into long term planning processes.

Section I of the report is an introduction and background. Section II provides "Key Findings on Fueling the Move Toward Clean Communities." Section III contains 31 profiles of local efforts. Section IV provides resources for further information.

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