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Oregon Should Convert State Fleet to Hybrids, Religious Leaders Say.

September 22, 2003

Religious leaders urged Oregon state officials on Sept. 18 to convert the state motor fleet to hybrids and other fuel-efficient cars. They said there is a moral obligation — and a practical value — to reduce oil consumption and lessen the air pollution that may contribute to global warming. "We know that caring for the Earth is a profoundly spiritual matter," said the Rev. Mark Knutson, president-elect of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and senior pastor of Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland. Knutson also said that conversion of the state government motor fleet during the next decade has its earthly rewards. “We stand here knowing that our state dollars are stretched,” he said. “So if we can do anything that saves state dollars for other purposes, it is our obligation to do so.” He and other religious leaders presented a report of the Oregon Interfaith Global Warming Campaign to Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, who heads the state Sustainability Board. According to the report, Oregon’s state government fleet consists of about 8,000 light-duty vehicles, equally divided among cars, SUVs, full-size pickups and others. Heavy-duty vehicles add 3,000 to 4,000. Jenny Holmes, state coordinator for the interfaith campaign, said there is no intent to deny appropriate vehicles for law enforcement and emergency services. Vehicles are replaced every seven to 10 years or when they reach 100,000 miles. The report said that conversion to fuel-efficient vehicles would save more than $2 million, burn 2.9 million fewer gallons of gasoline and eliminate pollution over the next decade. It said the state has more than 100 cars that run on compressed natural gas but just 13 hybrids combining gasoline with electric power. The first ones were acquired in 2000.
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