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NAFTA Superhighway

>NAFTA Superhighway for no-brainers
>On Monday, January 26, Windsor City Council approved, in principle, to jump
>on the bandwagon of the NAFTA superhighway.  The Council threw its support
>behind the "NAFTA Superhighway Coalition". The coalition is a cheerleading
>group for highway expansion and increased truck traffic.
>In communities across Canada and the United States, business groups, backed
>by local politicians, have formed lobby groups for increased spending on
>their local highways. The "Superhighway" concept is yet another form of
>public subsidy for private profit.  The 401 coalition is no different.
>Trucking firms, truck service companies and road constuction companies are
>key players in the coalition.  However, the 401 coalition includes one
>unique player: the Ambassador Bridge Company, which controls the only
>privately operated international border crossing between the United States
>and Canada.  
>Hailed repeatedly as a "win-win" for the City of Windsor by coalition
>co-chair Alfie Morgan, the benefits and costs of road expansion, new roads,
>a second bridge and more truck traffic remained vague during the
>presentation.  Councillors were willing to accept anecdotes and euphemisms
>as fact from the superhighway coalition.  Councillor Limoges scolded
>opponents of the proposal by claiming that acceptance of the coalition's
>proposal and assurances was a "no-brainer".  Indeed, it did not appear to
>faze any of the elected officals that by supporting this particular proposal
>they were, in effect, subverting the Council's own policy development process.
>Peter Pellerito spoke against the proposal and reminded the Council that
>Council committees were in the process of developing policies, such as a
>long-term transportation policy, for the Council's deliberations later in
>the year.  A decision that supported more road construction, hence more
>truck traffic, would subvert the policy development process.
>The most obvious cost of the superhighway initative, besides the continual,
>local financial subsidy of international truck traffic, is the environmental
>cost. The environmental costs were raised by Rick Coronado of the Citizens
>Environment Alliance.  The Council was satisfied, once again, to discuss
>this issue rhetorically and in a patronizing fashion.  They accepted the
>assinine idea put forward by the superhighway coalition, and reinforced by
>amendment from the City administration, that money could make the pollution
>problem, caused by vehicle traffic, dissappear.
>Southwestern Ontario currently has the worst air pollution in all of Canada
>and the Detroit River is amongst the most polluted waterways in North America.
>Yet, the Council was unconcerned by the fact that increased vehicle traffic
>results in increased air pollutants such as particulate matter and
>ground-level ozone.  Increased vehicle traffic also leads to a decrease in
>highway safety.  
>The costs, including financial costs, of air pollution that partially
>results from vehicular traffic includes: mortality, increased respiratory
>diseases, and overall ecological degradation. These costs far outweigh any
>vague estimates of short-term economic profit.  Pollution and its harmful
>effects will only increase in this area as a result of road expansion and
>increased vehicle traffic; that is a no-brainer.
>Increased traffic and pollution and decreased highway safety are simply
>symptoms of overall bad economics and poor social organization.  Since World
>War II, big business has relied on public subsidies to bolster its profit
>margins.  The public must also contend with the added burden of
>environmental damage and depletion of non-renewable resources.  Yet these
>costs do not matter economically, as in the measurement of the Gross
>Domestic Product, unless money is changing hands.
>Resistance does exist to NAFTA Superhighways as the Council meeting showed.
>The Coalition Against NAFTA Superhighways is uniting oppositon groups in all
>three countries.  The statement of opposition to the proposed routes begins
>with the inclusion of alternatives: "We work toward a world free of
>unsustaionable economic activity, valuing protection of our farmlands,
>forests and communities. Concerned with the globalization of corporate
>power, we support rail freight and local production as alternatives to more
>long-distance trade and trucks on the road."  For more information on this
>coalition of opposition contact the Citizens Environment Alliance at 973-1116. 
Windsor & Area Social Justice & Ecological Network
PO Box 548, Windsor, ON  N9A 6M6
Voice:  519-973-1116
Fax 519-255-7361
E-mail:  riccawu@mnsi  (GreenPlanet)