Businesses who reduce pollution lauded

05/29/08 Seán Kinane
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The Tampa Bay Clean Air Partnership (CAP) is an air-quality initiative geared toward reducing vehicle exhaust and traffic congestion. Today at the InterContinental Hotel in Tampa’s Westshore district, CAP held a lunchtime ceremony to honor organizations committed to reducing the air pollution generated by transportation.

The Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County is one of the two groups that formed CAP in 2002, and Rick Garrity is their executive director. The other group is the Pinellas County Department of Environmental Management. Garrity applauded the more than 50 businesses who participate in CAP for their "forward thinking efforts -- they translate into improved air quality, less congested roads, fuel savings."

The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) is tasked with coming up with a transit master plan for the region’s seven counties by next July.

Shelton Quarles, the chair of TBARTA, met last week with Gov. Charlie Crist to try to convince him not to veto $2 million that the Legislature has allocated to TBARTA. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor made a tongue-in-cheek suggestion of how Quarles could make a more convincing argument to the governor.

Castor said organizations like CAP are contributing to making the air quality of the region better, but additional improvements need to be made.

Castor, a first-term Democrat who represents parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties, said that in poor neighborhoods the air quality is worse and the transportation needs are greater than in many other parts of the community. Having effective transit options in East Tampa would revitalize the neighborhood, she said.

Last week the House of Representatives passed the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008, which Castor said "will create hundreds of thousands of green energy jobs." But on a day that federal regulators revealed that they are investigating oil companies for possible price manipulation, Castor said the environment was not so lucky when it came to a bill for funding clean energy research.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Rose Ferlita said the region needs transportation options to cut down on automobile traffic congestion which increases air pollution and has led to unhealthy levels of ozone pollution three times this month in the county. But, Ferlita said, Hillsborough is "making strides by … incorporating an environmental focus" on how the county does business.

Sandi Moody is executive director of Bay Area Commuter Services, a group that helps people find alternatives to driving alone.

Photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

Tampa Bay Clean Air Partnership

Bay Area Commuter Services phone: 800-998-RIDE (7433)

Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County – EPC

Pinellas County Department of Environmental Management – DEM

Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority - TBARTA

Best Workplaces For Commuters program

Smart Driver Campaign

Kathy Castor

Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008

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