Life in the green lane?

A look at what's driving legislation on Capitol Hill regarding hybrid vehicles.

By Katharine Mieszkowski
Published June 9, 2005 8:07PM (EDT)

Are the 15 members of Congress who drive hybrids trying to reduce dependence on foreign oil and fight global warming, one vehicle at a time? Or are they really trying to guarantee their own spots in the fast lane?

In Virginia, hybrids are currently allowed in high-occupancy vehicle lanes, which happens to be a violation of federal law. Members of Congress are trying to rectify that by passing legislation that would allow more fuel-efficient vehicles to speed by other traffic. The Senates version includes hybrid SUVs, like the Ford Escape Hybrid, which gets better gas mileage than a conventional SUV, but isnt exactly greener-than-thou. (The four-wheel drive Escape gets an average of 31 miles per gallon. But drivers of any Honda Civic, for example, would still be crawling their way along in the jammed up lanes, even though their cars get better gas mileage than the Escape.)

So, are these hybrid-driving lawmakers trying to save the earth, or are they more focused on getting to that next meeting with lobbyists more efficiently?

Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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