Sierra Club says GarageGate may cost you more - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Sierra Club says GarageGate may cost you more

There's a new voice in the fuss over GarageGate.  Environmental organizations are weighing in, worried about whether the "mistake" downtown will affect federal clean air funds.

If you drive a car in the City of Memphis, you have no choice but to wait in line and get an emissions test once a year.  It's all because of bad air.

That's why days like this really sizzle Allan Lummus.  "We have no choice.  The air today is testament to the fact that we have to do something," he says.

Lummus and the Sierra Club are fighting mad over the scandal at FedExForum and the fact that the City of Memphis is taking $6.5 million in air quality dollars to pay for it.  "We don't feel like this program should pay the cost of politicians messing around with the money."

The City of Memphis was supposed to build a bus terminal next to the FedExForum parking garage, primarily to relieve downtown driving and reduce fuel emissions.  They got tens of millions in grant money to do it.  But there's no bus terminal and City leaders won't say how clean air efforts will be hampered by paying the six-plus million dollar fine.

But Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald - who vice-chairs the group that oversees clean air grants - is worried about it.

"We've been given until next year to reach attainment for clean air quality.  So anything that any of the community does to negatively impact that impacts the entire clean air region," he says.

And that includes parts of Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. 

It means three states could face the reduction of federal highway funds if the tri-state area is not in compliance.

The biggest concern over at the Sierra Club is that - amid all of these criminal investigations - no one is talking about opening a new bus terminal downtown anymore.  They say it's badly needed.

Allan Lummus tells Action News 5 that - as far as he is concerned - the agencies or departments involved in messing up the plans in the first place should get the bill. 

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