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Was the Prius worth it?

Marty Lich
Special to the Daily

“I can’t afford a carriage,

but you’ll look sweet upon the seat, of a bicycle made for two …”

” Harry D’Acre, 1892



I wanted to write a column about the hybrid car, the Toyota Prius. You know, pro, con, cost and savings. But alas, Ye Olde Vail Trail Editor Randy beat me to it. Boy did he state it well!

Meanwhile a funny thing happened regarding those cool new green cars of ours. I had sent an e-mail off to County Commissioner Arn Menconi on March 12 and I never did get a response back even though I signed it “thank you.” I suppose that cements the idea that I am just one of those uninformed residents who cast my vote of unimportance.

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I take affront at that opinion of unimportant and ignorant in Eagle County voters by the way. I think most voters living here are pretty darn informed and I think our votes should have been honored. But that is just a personal opinion of mine and is neither here nor there regarding this issue.

In my e-mail I wrote the following:

Dear Commissioner Menconi,



I watched the “greening” of Eagle County cars on 9 News last night and I applaud restricted gas consumption and emissions, as do you, but I do have some questions for you!

1. What was the total purchase price of the 20 vehicles that have now been replaced in the county fleet? (Example: $18,000 times the 20 old vehicles.)

2. What was their total miles driven (combined total miles by all 20 vehicles) that have been replaced now for 2006-2007?

3. What is the (total combined) purchase costs of the 20 new ‘green’ Prius cars? (Looks like $23,000 each or so, based on the Internet.)

4. What is their annual mpg estimates? I believe it is 51 mpg when driven in town, is that correct?

I am still waiting to hear from Commissioner Menconi and I won’t keep holding my breath because blue is not my best color, so I did my own homework. Some of what I learned came from CNW Marketing Research Inc. Now granted, this report came out in December 2006 so maybe things have changed dramatically in regards to fuel efficiency and on-going environmental impacts but I rather doubt it.

In essence, I learned that building a Toyota Prius has more negative environmental impacts than manufacturing a Hummer does. The Prius has a nickel battery which is mined in Ontario, Canada and that particular mine caused so much land and water damage that at one point NASA used the zone surrounding it to practice its Apollo moon runs. Now the outlying areas are treated with lime and continually replanted.

Speaking in their favor, this mine no longer holds title to “the biggest producer of acid rain-causing chemicals in North America” and they have reduced their air pollutants.

I learned that we paid around $23,000 for each car and that the actual miles per gallon per the EPA testing is around 45 mpg.

And I know County of Eagle Hummers just wouldn’t look right to the taxpayers, even if they were painted green. So I am thinking bicycles here.

Our county-owned bicycles could have custom-ordered covered green carts. Bikes are relatively inexpensive to buy and maintain, they have little impact on the environment, especially if the rider remains on our tax-funded bike paths and roads. And for sure, bikes have zero impact regarding our annual snow levels due to the lack of emissions. Bikes would contribute to our county employees’ overall health, and people’s health is the other latest, greatest government “cool agenda” of late.

Bicycles are a win-win!

Now I wonder why our commissioners didn’t think of that.

And P.S. Commissioner Menconi, when driving conditions ” oops, I meant riding conditions are poor, think ECO buses! They are big, they travel everywhere, they are gas-efficient and we taxpayers already pay for those … and you could paint them green too!

Marty Lich is a Gypsum resident.


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