Gas guzzling

SUVs: Environmental protection is in policy, but not in the vehicles elected officials drive.

July 11, 1999

AREA LEADERS preach about protecting the environment. But what do they do? They eschew Escorts in favor of Grand Cherokees.

Setting fuel-efficiency aside for gas guzzling is in the time-honored tradition of extravagance -- exhibited by William Donald Schafer, who tooled around in a champagne-colored Cadillac when he was Baltimore's mayor. Former Baltimore County Executive Dennis Rasmussen favored a hefty Lincoln Town Car.

The luxury auto of choice these days is the sport utility vehicle. Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Harford County Executive James M. Harkin ride in big SUV models that the Environmental Defense Fund lists among its dirtiest dozen.

Even Howard County Councilman Guy Guzzone, a former director of Maryland's Sierra Club chapter, drives a Jeep Cherokee.

In the 1970s, many politicians drove small cars to let voters know they were sensitive to environmental issues in the wake of energy shortages. Now, energy is cheap again, and the politicians seem to feel it is safe again to drive around in monster vehicles.

They should know -- and act -- better.

Pub Date: 7/11/99

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