Opinion

‘Green vehicle’ mandates put budgets, lives at risk

As if further proof were needed of how government makes everything cost more than it should, consider the unfunded, entirely unnecessary mandate with which the city of Port Orchard, South Kitsap Fire and Rescue and other public entities are currently grappling.

Back in 2007, before the economy tanked and the ruling majority in Olympia had to at least pay lip service to fiscal responsibility, the Legislature passed one of its typically pie-in-the-sky measures to save the environment — this one stipulating that all state and local agencies must satisfy 100 percent of their fuel needs for all vessels, vehicles, and construction equipment using electricity or biofuel by 2015.

Never mind that hybrids cost considerably more than their fossil fuel alternatives — as the Port Orchard City Council has discovered on several recent occasions when it contemplated adding “green” vehicles to its fleet — and that biofuels simply aren’t practical yet.

Hey, it sounds noble, so let’s make someone else try it.

Even more important than the financial considerations, of course, is public safety. And according to experts, biofuels tend to clean the gunk out of old-fashioned petroleum-based engines, fouling the fuel lines and filters.

“It’s really a matter of life and death,” said Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Sedro-Wolley, co-sponsor of a bill in this year’s legislative session that would have exempted local governments from the unrelistic standards. “First responders must be confident that when someone calls 911, they can get their emergency vehicles started and get those vehicles rapidly to the scene without clunking out.”

Predictably, the bill is languishing in committee with scant hope of passage this year despite the original law being unaffordable and putting lives at risk.

Meanwhile, the state’s Energy Office promises it won’t agg-ressively enforce the old law — until it decides the time is right.

Doesn’t that make you feel better?

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