Tom Lehrer, the Harvard mathematician turned satirist, reportedly retired from the latter profession because politics had become a satire of itself in the 1970s. Eric Massa, the Congressman from New York’s 29th District, decided to demonstrate Lehrer’s continuing wisdom. He wanted to promote hydrogen-fueled vehicles as an answer to ending greenhouse-gas emissions, and so planned to drive himself to Washington DC in a GM model for publicity. However, Massa’s green ride got a big-time boost from two enormous SUVs:
Massa had to be in the nation’s capital Tuesday for his swearing in as the 29th Congressional District’s new representative. He drove the General Motors Equinox prototype car to draw attention to the technology, some of which is being developed in the district.
The problem is the car can go about 150 to 200 miles without a refill, and the trip from Corning to Washington, D.C. is 282 miles. And there are no hydrogen refilling stations along the way.
As a result, Massa had to switch to another GM hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that was standing by in Harrisburg.
So, okay, maybe Massa could have used this to make a point about infrastructure. We don’t have a hydrogen infrastructure to allow a 282-mile drive, and he could make that a selling point for Barack Obama’s policies for spending money on alternative-energy distribution networks. However, it makes the better point that alternative-energy vehicles at this stage are inferior to traditionally powered cars for anyone who wants to drive long distances.
But that’s not the end of the story. Massa only had to travel one way for this trip. What happened to those cars?
After the trip, both cars were towed back to their original locations by two Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid SUVs.
What? Not the Chevy Tahoe E85 vehicle that gets a whopping 15 MPG on the highway? No, this looks like the 2009 hybrid that gets 22 MPG on the highway — when not towing a vehicle behind it. Hybrid or not, the two SUVs dispersed much more greenhouse gases out their tailpipe than if Massa had just used a run-of-the-mill compact or mid-sized sedan on his one-way trip. Instead, Massa wound up having to use four cars for a one-way 282-mile trip to DC, thanks to his decision to go green.
Heck, he could have even driven my Honda SUV. It gets about 25 MPG on the highway even after 85,000 miles and seven years, and it would have made DC easily on one tank of gas. That would have saved Massa the switch and the two tows for his “green” cars.