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Solo SUV & Hummer Drivers Could Get Car Pool Lane Access

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Photo by billaday via Flickr

If you thought Sacramento politics was like watching paint dry on a wall, then it's time to revaluate that thought... at least for the moment. On Friday, the Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert blog picked their Press Release of the Week and if the proposed bill is passed, it could effect the roadways here in Los Angeles by letting solo drivers, including Hummers and other SUVs, gain access to car pool lanes if they purchase carbon off-sets annually. According to Senator Jim Battin (R- La Quinta), who submitted the bill, a "flashy, fuel-sucking car" (like his Lincon Aviator) only costs $45 a year while a Prius' carbon footprint can be neutralized for $15 (otherwise, the green bean car becomes "a worse foe to the environment than an SUV").

"SB 1374 would allow auto owners who purchase carbon credits that offset the carbon dioxide emissions of their vehicles to participate in the Clean Air - High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) decal program, allowing the driver to use an HOV lane," a press release from Battin's office stated (full press release below). And while Capitol Alert notes that the statement is dripping of sarcasm, a call to Battin's Sacramento office proved that the bill is the real deal, having been submitted and is not a spot-bill (a placeholder bill that may or may not be about what it says).

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Battin voted against California's leading recent environmental law, AB 32. The entire press release from Battin's office, chock full of sass and snark, is below.

02/22/2008 (via Jim Battin's website)

Battin proposes to open HOV Lanes to 'Carbon Neutral' drivers

SACRAMENTO - Senator Jim Battin (R- La Quinta) announced today legislation that would encourage every owner of a polluting, flashy, fuel sucking car to buy their way into an environmentally conscious "carbon neutral" lifestyle. SB 1374 would allow auto owners who purchase carbon credits that offset the carbon dioxide emissions of their vehicles to participate in the Clean Air - High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) decal program, allowing the driver to use an HOV lane.

This program currently only applies to the first 88,000 vehicles meeting enhanced California and Federal emission standards. Under Battin's proposed law, carbon neutral vehicles can also participate in the decal program. Battin sees SB 1374 as a perfect opportunity to jump start the state's efforts to single-handedly stop the fractionally small rise in global temperature.

On February 28, the California State Air Resources Board (CARB) is scheduled to consider under its AB 32 implementation plan how voluntary early actions can start saving the planet. "I can't think of a better way to become a true champion of the environment and reduce your carbon foot print than by going "carbon neutral" with your car," stated Battin.

Battin himself decided to go "carbon neutral" immediately after he was scolded by the Contra Costa Times' article that read, "Lawmakers' flashy, fuel-sucking cars on road at the expense of taxpayers".

"I was embarrassingly caught using excess energy. The only thing I could do was take action," Battin declared.

Battin immediately purchased for $45 a DriveNeutral Certificate which simply states that his CO2 emissions have been offset for one year. The obvious next question is if he has gone "green" and is "carbon neutral" why shouldn't he and other environmentally conscious drivers have the same rights as low-emission drivers and live the HOV lane good life?

This proposal should complement CARB's efforts. Through the DriveNeutral "CO2" Calculator or any of the dozens of other "carbon calculators" one can calculate that a 2007 Toyota Prius emits 4,229 pounds of dirty carbon per year making the Prius a worse foe to the environment than Senator Battin's carbon-free Lincoln Aviator. Through LiveNeutral, or any of the dozens of other carbon credit vendors, it would cost only $15 to eliminate this Prius polluter's carbon footprint.

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Battin added, "The guilt of my excess energy using days are a thing of the past - I feel great about my carbon credit indulgence and think many other Californians will too... when they are driving guilt free in the empty diamond lane."