Unknown environmentalist battles SUVs
An anonymous environmentalist struck in Basalt for the second time in a week early Thursday with a campaign aimed against SUVs in general, and Hummers in particular.The crusader plastered numerous flyers onto newspaper racks, garbage cans and storefronts on Midland Avenue. They feature the picture of a Hummer, which is driven by a local real estate agent, and a bold-lettered headline that asks, “Who needs oil wells in Alaskan wilderness?”The same flyers were placed on many of the same sites Friday, May 16. They were eventually taken down by passersby.The headline is a reference to the debate about President Bush’s support for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. A proposal to allow drilling, which is currently banned, died in the U.S. Senate earlier this year. The Bush administration has indicated it will revive debate in the U.S. House.After some sleuthing, The Aspen Times tracked down the person who claimed to be responsible. The crusader would only talk on the condition of anonymity.He claimed that the idea of a sport utility vehicle “being cool and outdoorsy has got to change.” SUVs and light trucks don’t have to meet as strict of emissions standards as passenger cars due to loopholes in federal regulations. They also get poorer gas mileage than passenger cars.The crusader said he picked the Hummer as the poster child for the campaign because it is frequently parked on Midland Avenue. The vehicle is driven by Hedy Longworth, who works at a real estate firm in downtown Basalt. She didn’t return a message Friday seeking comment.The man said the idea of the flyers was to stir debate and consideration of the issue of SUVs.”In Basalt there’s a movement beginning, and we’re not going to let decadence creep in,” he said. “Living here and driving that is the absolute height of hypocrisy.”The person said the campaign will continue periodically.Basalt Police Chief Keith Ikeda said he didn’t believe his department has received any complaints about the flyers. He noted that Longworth filed a complaint when somebody stuck a bumper sticker on her Hummer about a month ago. He couldn’t remember what the sticker said. It was easily removed, he recalled.Posting the flyers around town isn’t a criminal offense, as long as they don’t cause permanent damage and as long as they don’t pose threats, Ikeda said.For information on gas mileage, go to fueleconomy.gov. While that government-sponsored Web site had information on virtually every model, it unfortunately didn’t include the Hummer.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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