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Hybrids get even better

by: © 2007 Toyota, The Toyota Prius came out ahead of the gas-powered Camry in a recent Sustainable Life comparison, but one reader says the hybrid’s margin of victory should have been even wider.

Thank you for publishing Eric Bartels' honest appraisal of the Toyota Prius hybrid (Sustainable Life, Toyota Prius hybrid vs. Toyota Camry?, June 12). Earlier that day, radio host Rush Limbaugh was misleading listeners, saying that hybrids are worse for the environment than a GM Hummer. Okaaay.

While the appraisal awarded hybrids the winning advantages over a standard drivetrain in fuel economy, pollution reduction and even cost, hybrids should handily win on the issues of safety and maintenance as well.

A hybrid's regenerative braking system is an undeniable safety advance that also leads to longer-lasting brake pads. Because the hybrid's electric motor handles acceleration, the internal combustion engine's speed and load are strictly regulated for optimal performance, improving engine longevity.

The next generation of hybrid is commonly called the plug-in hybrid. These have larger battery packs that add zero-emission miles at higher driving speeds. The battery weight can lower the vehicle's center of gravity, improving stability and handling, another safety factor that's especially important for top-heavy, roll-prone SUVs.

Plug-in prototypes have achieved 100 mpg, but that fuel economy has a limited range that may be the hybrid's most important advantage: limiting one's regular driving range affects land-use and development whereby more destinations become accessible without having to drive.

Walking and bicycling become a better travel option, and mass transit more practical to arrange.

Add to this the plug-in hybrid's compatibility with rooftop photovoltaic solar power, which should prove useful for household electricity conservation and invaluable in an emergency.

These hybrid advantages are the short list. The long list suggests hydrogen fuel cell technology will only fill niche purposes. Federal legislation should mandate the further development of plug-in hybrid technology.

Art Lewellan

Northwest Portland

More roads is not a sustainable solution

I like and appreciate the Portland Tribune's regular Sustainable Life sections, but your June 12 editorial (Republicans must say yes to funding) calling for the state to fund more roads and highways is anything but sustainable.

In fact, in light of global warming we must do all we can to reduce greenhouse gases, which would mean fewer cars, fewer roads and highways and more mass transit.

Gas prices will keep ratcheting up year by year also, which will make it more important than ever to improve our mass transit system. Several new lines of light rail and a large expansion of street cars are necessary.

We need more compact development of walkable neighborhoods, especially of the inner city, with many more high-rises like those found in the South Waterfront development.

We need more high-density, Orenco-type villages along MAX lines and streetcar lines, not more roads and highways. Studies always have shown that more roads and highways do not relieve congestion because soon after completion they are just as congested as before.

For future growth we need to follow super-successful New York City's strategy, higher density and more mass transit.

Richard Brooks

Southwest Portland

Story on immigrants was unbalanced

Tom Cox had me convinced that his comments on immigration (My View, June 5, ) were balanced and dispassionate until 'Democrats can get more votes from a victimized and ghettoized ethnic group than from an assimilated and economically advancing one.'

It makes as much sense to amend the previous sentence in an otherwise thoughtful opinion piece as follows: Republicans (instead of 'employers') 'can get away with lower wages and more callous treatment of workers who dare not go to the police.'

As the headline states, 'Extremes don't help debate.' I agree.

Nicholas Green

Southwest Portland

Injuries affected play of ex-Blazers

We read a lot about the Portland Trail Blazers goofing when they drafted Sam Bowie and, to a lesser extent, Mychal Thompson. What never seems to be mentioned is that both players suffered injuries early in their careers.

Kermit Washington once asked Thompson if he thought his career would have changed if he had not suffered the broken leg that kept him out of action for a year. Thompson refused to use it as an excuse, but I think both men would have been different players were it not for those injuries.

Time and unforeseen occurrences always shape our futures, so let's cut them some slack.

Gary Deadmond

Oakridge