If the proposed levels are approved, here are some possible consequences of non-attainment for Huntsville:
- Higher energy costs. As the Times pointed out, while a TVA coal power plant near Florence might be 70 miles away, it still affects the air quality of the region. TVA might have to make significant and costly improvements to the plant, in turn raising energy costs for all of us.
- Emissions testing for automobiles.
- Lower speed limits, especially on 565. The 70 mph speed limit we all enjoy (and break) all the way to downtown will probably be lowered to the 55-60 mph limit seen on most urban interstates.
- Transportation conformity plans for new roads. While these are costly and time consuming, they would ensure that a new road project would not have a negative impact on the region's air quality. In other words, a new road that increases congestion won't get federal/state funding. (Adios, Patriot Parkway.) This will hopefully put a greater emphasis on better transit and pedestrian/bike access on congested corridors.
- Better land-use plans. While the Times makes it sound like "growth" will come to a standstill once we reach non-attainment, that is not true. Unhealthy growth (sprawl) will continue to happen, but at a slower pace. Expect smarter growth practices throughout Madison County, with more land preserved for greenspace and better, more walkable mixed-use designs for neighborhoods.