Are you aware that the San Francisco branch of the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) is backing a plan by the venture capitalized corporations Uber and Lyft to put thousands of their private vehicles on that city’s streets without an environmental impact study, regulatory oversight or emission controls?
The new services called, Uber Pool and Lyft Line, designate the same vehicle (owned by a private individual) to pick up at multiple locations in the same area and take the passengers to different places where the vehicles drop them off.
Uber and Lyft market this strategy by claiming,
- “Shared ride platforms … reduce the number of private vehicles on the road” …” decreasing emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants, particularly in urban areas.”
This is a textbook example of Orwellian doublethink. They may or may not be motivating private citizens to take their cars off the road but they are certainly putting huge clusters of their own privately owned vehicles on the streets to do the job.
But it sounds good, yes? In fact, it sounded so good to Amanda Eaken, Deputy Director of the NRDC’s Urban Solutions Program, that she wrote in her comments to the California Public Utilities Commission that despite the fact that,
- “… these services are novel” <and> “have not yet been the subject of independent research to verify their broader social and environmental impacts…,” <and> While important research questions remain to be answered, this is not the time to make changes that would prevent ridesplitting (her word for Uber Pool & Lyft Line) from further evolving, particularly in light of… California’s ambitious climate goals.”
Would Ms. Eaken and the NRDC take the same attitude if Exxon said that it was evolving a new, environmentally friendly method of fracking? Would the NRDC wait to see what the effects would be before calling for an inquiry? I think not.