AB 296 Cool Pavement to Reduce Global Warming

Russ Steele

Only in California would the legislature try to prevent global warming by creating white roads. AB 296, the Cool Pavements Research and Implementation Act, is sponsored by Assembly Member Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. Skinner’s bill would develop definitions, draw up new building codes and allocate $2 million for research and pilot projects to use cooler paving materials on freeways and highways to reduce “global warming” and the local “urban heat island effect.”

An “urban heat island effect” is created when soil and vegetation is replaced with impervious paved roads, sidewalks and buildings. The concept of Urban Heat Islands is well known and has been demonstrated multiple times. However,  there is no know science that supports the adoption cool road pavement standards. This sound a little bit like CARB’s low carbon fuel standards.

AB 296 would require the California Environmental Protection Agency first to define the term “Urban Heat Island Effect” and develop a standard specification for “sustainable or cool pavements.”

Upon the completion of the definition of “urban heat island effect,” Caltrans would be required to develop a standard specification for cool pavements for freeway and highway construction to reduce the “urban heat island effect.”

Lets say that Caltrans does come up with a light colored pavement, how long do you think it would stay light colored with all the tires dust, diesel soot, and oil from leaky engines and transmissions?  Perhaps locals in Grass Valley will remember the red bricks used to make the cross walks, and how fresh and clean they looked, and now after several yeas of use they are the same dark gray as the surrounding road. No light colored red cross walks and not money to clean them, according the City Council.

AB 296 has no known basis in accepted atmospheric science and would result in greater warming and air pollution, according to Mark Jacobson, professor in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. He says switching to cooler — and thus lighter colored — road-paving materials to reduce global warming would be a “public health disaster waiting to happen.” He said it is very well known in environmental science that “pollutants would hug the ground surface” if hardened road surfaces were cooler.

The resulting greater air pollution would be hard to deny as an unanticipated consequence, according to Jacobson.  Creating legislation without first understanding the underlying science is down right stupid.  But, then again this legislation was proposed by a Democrat from Berkley.  I read my case.

This post was adopted from material originally published in CalWatchDog.


About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

3 Responses to AB 296 Cool Pavement to Reduce Global Warming

  1. Arthur M. Day. says:

    Actually, that’s properly spelled Berzerkly.
    No, really, it’s a great idea. And if it doesn’t seem to reduce global warming much, just pave the whole state.
    Listening to Devout Democrats is like hanging out in the day room of the seriously deluded ward at the late lamented DeWitt St. Hosp.

  2. Dixon Cruickshank says:

    Good Arthur, cute

    Russ, last time I checked wasn’t the HIE being discounted as a non issue in warming – or you could throw out all recent Temp records that showed the warming to begin with on your and Anthonys project – by the way concrete is light colored

    • Sean says:

      I smell an opportunist. Don points out that concrete is light colored and I recall as a kid that walking barefoot in the summer time that you’d burn your feet on the asphalt but not on the concrete. Could there possibly be the in visible hand of a Ready Mix Concrete organization behind this one?

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