(Earlier this morning I emailed Sustainalytics a copy of the following. I’ll post any response if and when they do so.)
The Absurdity of Sound Transit’s “Green” Bond Claim
Sound Transit’s 2016 Proposed Budget included news they had issued $1 billion in new “Green” bonds in 2015. The details of the bond sale were contained in an Aug 5 announcement:
The sale represents the world’s largest municipal sale of green bonds, which are a rising trend in the financial industry that offers the ability to invest in bonds that advance environmental sustainability.
They supported their claim with the following
The bond issuance is fully compliant with International Capital Market Association (ICMA) Green Bond Principles, validated through an independent opinion commissioned from Sustainalytics. The firm concluded “investors in Sound Transit green bonds can be fairly confident that their investments will result in positive environmental impact.”
Whoever this Sustainalytics firm is, their conclusion “investors in Sound Transit green bonds can be fairly confident that their investments will result in positive environmental impact” is debunked by reality. For example Sound Transit has already devastated 112th Ave, turning a tree-lined boulevard, part of what made Bellevue the “city in the park”, into a transportation nightmare. Hardly a positive impact!
Any competent environmental review would have also quickly concluded Sound Transit made a mockery of the federal environmental review process when they told the FHWA and FTA light rail noise would have no impact on the Mercer Slough Park at the same time they were planning to spend millions shielding properties some 300 ft away and across a major roadway from this non-existent noise. No competent reviewer would consider the resultant loss of the quiet solitude of the park a “positive environmental impact.”
Sustainalytic’s credibility is further degraded by their presumed concurrence with the following statement by Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine extolling light rail environmental benefits to investors with the following:
“They need look no further than these green bonds, which will fund transportation projects that increase commuters' mobility while reducing reliance on cars.”
The ST claim light rail in Seattle will “increase commuters’ mobility while reducing reliance on cars” is sheer fantasy. This area’s roadway congestion, like most congestion, is due to too many non-transit vehicles for the limited number of highway lanes. Other than adding highway lanes the obvious solution is to convince more “drivers” to become “transit riders”.
Rather than attracting “drivers”, ST is spending billions on Central Link light rail extensions to light rail stations where the vast majority with access will be former bus “riders”. The resultant reduction in the number of buses on I-5 will have no impact on congestion (nor environment)
East Link will actually increase I-90 congestion. The ST 4th lane additions to the I-90 outer roadways (R-8A configuration) won’t have the capacity for both non-transit and transit HOV traffic. Thus closure of the center roadway in 2017 will increase I-90 congestion. When East Link does begin operation ST plans to use light rail trains to replace all the cross-lake buses, refusing to recognize reducing the number of buses on the outer roadway will have a minuscule impact on congestion.
They compound that problem by refusing to recognize East Link’s one 4-car train-every-8-minute operating schedule won’t have the capacity to accommodate all the transit riders during the peak commute. Thus East Link operation will further increase I-90 congestion because former transit riders will be forced to drive rather than ride.
Again, even a cursory review would have concluded light rail in Seattle will not “increase commuters mobility while reducing reliance on cars” belying any claim for “Green”.