Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Is the EPA talking the talk, but not walking the walk?  In what may be viewed as an ironic twist, the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to move its Region 7 headquarters from its current location in downtown Kansas City, Kansas  to the suburbs, may in fact do more harm to the environment than if they had stayed put.
The NRDC’s Kaid Benfield tackles this move in an exposé calling the decision downright “horrible.”  By comparing satellite imagery, Benfield argues that moving the facility will not only take away 600 jobs key to Kansas City’s revitalization and stabilization, but it will lead to three times as many pollutants emitted as a result of changes in employee transportation habits.
Data in the comparison was obtained through publicly accessible sites, walk score, (a service allowing people to identify walkable neighborhoods and their benefits) and Abogo (a tool evaluating how transportation impacts an area).  The findings are below.
Current Location (downtown Kansas City, Kansas)
Photo: Kaid Benfield via Google Maps
Walkscore = 62 out of 100, “somewhat walkable” > 81% of Kansas City
Abogo = Average household cost – $674/mo < regional average – $874/mo; Transportation CO2 impact – 0.39 metric tons/month < regional average – 0.74 metric tons/month.
New location (suburbs of Lenexa, Kansas)
Photo: Kaid Benfield via Google Maps
Walkscore = 28 out of 100, “car dependent” < 86% of Lenexa residents
Abogo = Average household cost – $958/mo > regional average – $874/mo; Transportation CO2 impact – 1.08 metric tons/mo > regional average – 0.74 metric tons/mo.
Benfield also took a look at the core livability principles that arose from the partnership for sustainable communities between the EPA, Department of Transportation, and Department of Housing and Urban Development.  In short, he wonders how this decision to move  supports the community.  He does however look at the other side, elaborating on the new loaction’s LEED certification and related cost savings advantages in connection with the move.
Regardless, Benfield is adamant in his views:
In today’s rancorous political climate, conservatives charge that the federal government’s interest in sustainability is basically a statist plot to force Americans into a lifestyle that they don’t want. Amazingly, in this case it is by ignoring sustainability that the government may be forcing its employees into a lifestyle and increased costs that they likely do not want. The much-heralded government interest in sustainability not only is not forcing ordinary Americans to do anything: it isn’t even having an effect on the government’s own practices.
Where do you stand in regards to the government’s interest in sustainability? Is it born out of a desire to force people into a lifestyle they don’t want?  Or does it work the other way, by ignoring sustainability, people are then forced into other lifestyles they don’t want?  Do we have a choice?  
Read On:
EPA Region 7: “We were just kidding about that sustainability stuff”
Loss of EPA headquarters will affect community
EPA moving regional HQ, but staying in Kansas
HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities
Is Sustainability a Scam
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