Candidates generally back hybrids |

Candidates generally back hybrids

EAGLE COUNTY ” The Eagle County Commissioners decided to save a lot of gas this year. That’s the basis of the weekly question for the three people running for Eagle County Commissioner.

Commissioners Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon voted recently to sell several of the county’s cars and trucks and spend another $200,000 to help pay for 20 Toyota Prius hybrid cars. What do you think of that move?

I have not been able to obtain a cost-benefit study on the purchase of the Prius hybrid cars: miles driven on county business, fuel cost savings, estimated fuel price increases, depreciation, etc., but in principle I support the commissioners’ decision.

It sends a message, as did the wind credits purchased by Vail Resorts and the town of Vail, that we are approaching our future responsibly.

Rising fossil fuel costs are our Achilles’ heel, something that can discourage tourists from driving here, for instance. And natural gas prices are going to make our workforce housing even more unaffordable.

Any effort to shed the fossil-fuel addiction and use alternative renewable energy sources should be applauded.

I have lots of ideas to explore in this direction ” a wind-and-solar powered airport, biomass-heated schools, tapping into the vast amounts of geothermal energy in the Gilman mine tunnels, etc.

Eagle County can be a model for forward thinking energy policy. What a great message this would be to send our VIP visitors who have the wherewithal to make a difference in the world.

If the economics of replacing the Eagle County fleet of vehicles with Priuses is a sound financial move then it might be a good idea.

If doing this costs the county money then we should have considered using the current fleet until vehicles are retired and then replace them with more energy efficient vehicles.

The goal to be more energy efficient is good but taxes must be used wisely so that programs are accomplished with economic responsibility.

There are several questions that should be answered before choosing a single fleet vehicle with the major goal of gas economy.

Those questions are: relative safety of smaller vehicles over larger vehicles; suitability to local climate and the variety of road conditions encountered in Eagle County; capability of one kind of vehicle to satisfy the many needs of county transportation; costs such as initial cost, maintenance costs and long-term operation costs as well as resale.

Apparently the commissioners have said that “the bottom line is important” and that they are looking for “environmental responsibility while still being fiscally responsible.” If the conditions listed above have been satisfied then the purchase of energy efficient cars for Eagle County is a smart move.

Eagle County is nationally recognized for its leadership in everything from finance reporting to public health services, from trails to weed control. So why wouldn’t we want to take the lead when it comes to managing the county’s vehicles?

Buying more fuel efficient vehicles to replace some of the high-end, gas-guzzling cars and trucks that are now in the county’s fleet seems sensible.

Though the price tag exceeds this year’s budgeted dollars, the sale of the used vehicles will offset nearly 50 percent of the cost.

The difference will be made up in gas savings over a relatively short period of time. In fact, these new vehicles will consume about one third of the fuel that is currently being pumped into the SUVs, pickups and sedans slated to be replaced.

Environmentally, economically and socially it seems like the thing to do.

Conserving resources, improving recycling and finding ways to be more energy efficient are goals our current commissioners believe worthy of achieving. This is a bandwagon I’m happy to jump on as Eagle County continues to lead the way.

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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