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"Riding High?"

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  • Will Stewart
    December 31, 2001 Letters to the Editor The Washington Post 1150 15th Street Northwest Washington, DC 20071 Dear Sir or Madam: The Washington Post editorial
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 31, 2001
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      December 31, 2001

      Letters to the Editor
      The Washington Post
      1150 15th Street Northwest
      Washington, DC 20071

      Dear Sir or Madam:

      The Washington Post editorial staff has correctly kept a watchful eye on
      energy policy legislation, providing it's readership some insights on
      the scope and impact of energy demand, resource depletion, conservation
      potential, and renewable energy growth. On the other hand, the On Wheels
      section continues to trumpet the praises of low gas mileage trucks and
      SUVs. In the December 30th article, the author Warren Brown urges those
      who question such a practice to "get over it", even when NHTSA accident
      data shows that an occupant of an automobile is four times a likely to
      die in a collision with an SUV[1].

      In describing the latest SUV from GM, ironically dubbed the
      "Trailblazer", Mr. Brown provides a section on the SUV's "head-turning
      quotient", though he never does divulge its gas mileage, supplying
      instead an offhand remark about its "roar of a V8 without a V8's
      gluttony for gasoline". However, the Trailblazer achieves only 15 MPG in
      the city and 18 MPG average, requiring over 3 times as much gasoline as
      a 5 passenger Toyota Prius[2]. He also goes on to describe the new
      trucks as "environmentally friendly in terms of tailpipe emissions".
      However, the Trailblazer achieves only an EPA air pollution score of 4,
      while the Toyota Prius achieves the EPA's maximum score of 10[2].

      Mr. Brown explains the purchase of an SUV is a "matter of American
      consumers exercising their freedom to vote with their pocketbooks". In
      the context of this article, contrasted with various Post editorials, it
      appears that such a vote will be for choosing "head-turning quotient"
      over lower US resource depletion, lower oil imports, lower foreign trade
      deficits, lower smog levels, less climate change, and less fatalities
      for auto occupants. Indeed, considering also that most of the terrorism
      the US suffers is funded directly or indirectly through foreign oil
      sales, the most patriotic act one could make in this regard would be to
      abstain from the purchase of a current SUV, light truck, or any other
      vehicle that fails to achieve an average of 27 mpg, the current US
      Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) for automobiles. Given that Ford
      will soon have on the market a hybrid Escape SUV attaining 40 mpg, the
      most patriotic act the President and Congress can make in this regard is
      to raise the CAFE standard to at least 35 mpg, inclusive of SUVs,
      minivans, and pickups.


      William R. Stewart
      40101 Highland View Lane
      Paeonian Springs, VA 20129
      (540) 882-4872

      [1] "Relationships between Vehicle Size and Fatality Risk in Model Year
      1985-93 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks", NHTSA Report Number DOT HS 808
      570, January 1997
      [2] US Government Fuel Economy website,
      http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm , selecting the 2002
      Chevrolet Trailblazer and the 2002 Toyota Prius

      On Wheels article:

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