Governors Get Free SUVs, Gas Money
By Ken Maguire
Associated Press Writer
Friday, Aug. 3, 2001; 2:40 a.m. EDT
PROVIDENCE, R.I. –– Governors attending the National Governors Association meeting in Rhode Island this weekend will drive gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles provided free of charge by General Motors Corp.
The governors will use the all-terrain vehicles to cruise a coastal state that crests a mere 812 feet above sea level and can be driven from end to end in just under an hour. A state committee has set aside ,000 gas money, prompting an outcry from environmentalists as the country grapples with energy woes.
The conference begins Saturday, just days after the U.S. House defeated a proposal requiring an increase in minimum gas mileage standards for the popular vehicles. One of the vehicles they'll use, the Yukon XL, averages about 19 miles per gallon.
"General Motors can do better than showing off their worst gas guzzlers to our governors," said Ann Mesnikoff, a lobbyist for the Sierra Club in Washington. "Leave it to GM and the auto industry to show off 1950s technology dressed up with leather seats and cup holders."
Governors from all 50 states are invited to the conference. Among the scheduled speakers is Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, who is to discuss energy matters.
"It is outrageous with the energy crisis right now," said Kate Strouse, spokeswoman for the state chapter of the Public Interest Research Group.
Gov. Lincoln Almond, however, said the state is appreciative.
"We don't take a gesture by GM and tell them what to do," he said.
Sixty-five new Yukon XL sport utility vehicles and 24 Chevrolet Express passenger vans have been shipped to Rhode Island State Police headquarters.
In addition to the gas cards, Governors will be provided a state trooper to drive and assist with security.
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© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press