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Bartlett touts alternative energy at hybrid car show

November 04, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

HALFWAY - With popped hoods to hybrid cars outstretched before him, U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett told a group gathered Friday at Valley Mall that the country is in an "Indian summer of oil," and should look more closely at alternative fuels.

During what was dubbed "The 1st Annual Hybrid Car Show in Hagerstown," Bartlett, R-Md., said the price of oil has been down, but it will rise again. He said hybrids and other vehicles that run on alternative fuels will help Americans become less dependent on oil.

"It's not that we're running out of oil," he said. "It's just not easy to get cheap oil."

Bartlett said the country reached its maximum oil production in 1970 in the lower 48 states. The country now is producing half the oil it produced in 1970, he said.

Bartlett said he is "pleased with what our automotive industry is doing" in terms of hybrid cars, which run on a mix of gasoline and electricity, and cars that run on E85, a mixture of ethanol and gasoline.

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Lauren Robbins, Maryland Energy Administration's transportation and alternative fuels program manager, said there are only four stations in the state that offer E85, but said the state is working to get more.

Robbins said there are about 7,000 flexible fuel vehicles and about 14,000 hybrids in Maryland.

Bartlett has two hybrids. He said he is the first congressman and first Marylander to buy a Toyota Prius, which runs on a combination of electricity and gasoline.

"It produces a lot, lot less pollution," he said.

David Goldstein, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington D.C., told the group, "Drive electric and starve a terrorist."

Goldstein said money for oil "is going to countries that would just as soon see us disappear."

Rich Keller, a sales representative for Younger Toyota in Hagerstown, said there only are about a handful of hybrid cars on the dealer lot because the vehicles are so popular.

"We can't keep them on our lot," Keller said. "They're in and out very quickly."

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and Commissioners James F. Kercheval and John C. Munson were on hand for the event.

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