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LETTERS

Public Transit Is Best Answer to Air Pollution

June 06, 2004

In his column " 'Hydrogen Highway' Plans Riding on Misconceptions" (Golden State, May 6), Michael Hiltzik writes: "If the governor really wants to 'get rid of the smog that is hanging over our cities,' as he claims, even the most dyed-in-the-wool hydrogen maven will tell him that hybrids are the fastest way there."

Well, actually, the fastest way there is also the fastest way from North Hollywood to downtown: the subway.

If we really want to get rid of the smog hanging over our cities, as well as slow or reverse the amoeba-like sprawl of development that is digesting what's left of our wild lands and farms, we have to provide our people with alternatives to land-gobbling, tax-guzzling road infrastructure, real opportunities to get through their day without making themselves slaves to their own cars and the oil oligarchs who have been perpetuating and exploiting this situation for nearly 70 years.

Put money into an extensive rail transit system (underground, so there's room in the sun for people); improve bus connections; and, instead of giving tax breaks to wage-crushing land hogs like Wal-Mart, use them to encourage elegant and efficient mixed-use, higher-density development.

Richard Risemberg

Los Angeles

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Despite significant hurdles, we cannot afford to ignore the promise of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles: a fivefold decrease in smog-forming pollution compared with that of today's cleanest combustion cars; deep cuts in heat-trapping gas emissions when using renewable energy; and no gasoline.

Jason Mark

California Director, Union of Concerned Scientists Berkeley

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