Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A green-er fleet

When folks talk about efficient government, they might not be referring to lower taxes. Are Maryland taxpayers willing to pay more to make the state as “green” as it can be?

At the next meeting of the state Board of Public Works, Gov. Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp plan to discuss the prospect of bringing more hybrid vehicles into the state’s fleet.

Franchot first broached the subject, during a discussion over purchasing standards for vehicles. It could be touchy, though, while the state faces a looming budget shortfall.

Franchot said a setting goal — potentially around 20 percent of the state’s fleet — would help the state advance its efforts to fight global warming. He called it “something that without breaking the bank … would move us in that direction.”

Still, hybrids tend to cost more than their plain gasoline-powered counterparts (a new basic hybrid Honda Civic costs about 50 percent more than a non-hybrid), and many of the most established brands are made in other countries.

Treasurer Kopp suggested that the state could move in the right direction on the cheap by purchasing gasoline-powered vehicles with better fuel economy.

Is it important for the state to buy American? Are hybrid state vehicles the answer to environmental woes?

-ANDY ROSEN, Daily Record Business Writer

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