Monday, April 7, 2008

Green Exceptions

The Sun has a story about politicians who talk green and then use gas-guzzling SUVs to get around. One of the few exceptions, the paper says, is our own HoCo exec.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett use hybrid vehicles.

"I just wanted to set a good example," said Bartlett, a conservative Republican from Western Maryland. Seeing elected leaders espouse environmentalism but practice something else "just makes people very cynical," he said.

Bartlett says his Toyota Prius has plenty of room and is safer than a rollover-prone SUV.

"It's a silly justification for conspicuous consumption," the congressman said.

The big SUVs typically get 12 to 16 mpg, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's latest ratings, though the E-85 Suburbans, which use a mixture of 85 percent corn-based fuel and 15 percent gasoline, burn the equivalent of 6.7 barrels of oil per year compared with 21.4 barrels for the gasoline-only model. The E-85 releases 9.2 tons of global warming gases per year - 2.2 tons less than the gas-powered model - based on 15,000 miles of annual driving.

By contrast, Bartlett's Prius - his second - gets 46 mpg, uses 7.4 barrels of oil annually and releases 4 tons of carbon dioxide.

While corn-based ethanol reduces oil use, production methods can wipe out the benefit to global warming, several experts said.

"There's no scientific evidence that flex-fuel is helping the environment," because there's no certification for how it is made, DeCicco said.

A gallon of ethanol produces less energy than an equal amount of oil, so more must be burned, said David Friedman, research director for the vehicles program of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Ulman's Ford Escape hybrid gets 30 mpg, uses 11.4 barrels of oil a year and puts 6.1 tons of carbon dioxide into the air. The Howard County executive, however, is often chauffeured around the county by a police officer driving an unmarked patrol car.


Anonymous said...

The last sentence of this post invalidates the fact that Ulman is provided with a hybrid by the county. Like most things Ulman does, the hybrid is all for show.

He only has the hybrid so he can be a media darling. I'll bet he has not put 5 tanks of gas through it.

Dave said...

I have to take issue with the theory that Ulman is an exception of politicians who say one thing and do another. It is summed up in the last sentence of the excerpt you pulled from the article

"The Howard County executive, however, is often chauffeured around the county by a police officer driving an unmarked patrol car."

Seems to me Ken Ulman is just as hypocritical as the other politicians cited in the article, he just did a better sales job among the press by buying a hybrid - one that he apparently rarely actually uses....symbolism over substance....