Pawlenty's Suburban myth

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A few weeks ago Gov. Tim Pawlenty boasted to the press that he'd seen the light, and it was inside a sleek black Suburban SUV with enough elbow room to fit his entourage and their equipment. Pawlenty said the soaring gas prices and dependency on fossil fuels forced him to make the switch to an SUV that uses E85 and gas, and it's time for the rest of the country to climb on board similar moon-sized vehicles for more fuel-efficient rides. Sounds like a great strategy (and a great PR move), if only the Suburban didn't get less gas mileage than a Hummer, produce more than 11 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year, and have an EPA air-pollution score of three out of 10 (10 being the best).


Pawlenty said he considered getting a hybrid SUV, most of which get more than 30 mpg in the city and have an EPA rating of nine. But hybrids, he decided, were too small for a man of his stature, so he opted for the fuel flex Suburban instead, which he special ordered in black. The fuel flex Suburban gets 11 mpg in the city and 14 highway mpg on E85, a few less than it does on regular gasoline (14/19), which is less than half of the fuel-efficiency of a Volkswagen Jetta or a hybrid SUV. But unless Pawlenty (or his drivers) wants to waste a gallon or more of gas driving to one of the 12 or so gas stations that sell E85 in the Twin Cities, chances are Pawlenty would be better off driving a Hummer with a gas leak.


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