Legislators asked to get rid of SUVs
Thursday, June 5, 2003
Calif. Democrats tout need to set an example after adopting tighter fuel emission limits
By Mark Truby / The Detroit News
DEARBORN -- California lawmakers, known for routinely passing some of the nation's strictest environmental laws, are trying to wean their colleagues off their favorite vehicles: SUVs.
The state's Democratic-controlled Senate Rules Committee said this week it plans to stop buying sport utility vehicles for its fleet. Nearly half of the Senate's 57 vehicles are SUVs.
The move comes after the California Assembly, the other half of the state's Legislature, began offering an additional $10,000 for office expenses to lawmakers who trade their SUVs for hybrid gas-electric powered vehicles.
While steeped in politics, the moves suggest that criticism of SUVs is moving from the extremes to the mainstream.
The heated debate over SUVs in California has large implications in Detroit, where automakers rely on the popular vehicles for the majority of their profits.
California's commuters love their high-riding, comfortable Ford Explorers and Chevy Tahoes. But the state's environmentalists have enormous influence and deride SUVs as gas-guzzlers.
California lawmakers, who have passed strict regulations on greenhouse gases in the past year, are clearly concerned about being labeled hypocrites. Nearly half of the state's legislators -- 54 of 120 -- drive SUVs.
"We need to lead by example and we will use whatever bully pulpit we have," said John Waldie, the California Assembly's chief administrative officer. "It's time to reduce emissions in California because Lord knows we have more smog than just about anywhere else."
Waldie drives a Ford Expedition, one of the largest SUVs on the market. Like many in California, he's struggling with the issue.
"I like (the Expedition)," he said. "But I definitely consider myself an environmentalist."
Detroit's automakers say they have seen no signs that American consumers are shying away from SUVs, which now account for one in four vehicle sales in the United States.
Even so, the car companies are developing fuel efficient gas-electric powered sport-utes.
Both Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus division will debut hybrid sport-utes next year.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....