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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL)

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Thursday, February 3, 2005
NEWS RELEASE Minnesota House of Representatives Contact: Melissa Parker (651) 296-8873 February 3, 2005 LEGISLATORS INTRODUCE "CLEAN AIR INITIATIVE" Saint Paul – On this fifth consecutive day of Twin Cities air quality being declared "unhealthy," Senator Scott Dibble and Rep. Frank Hornstein announced the introduction of their "Clean Air Initiative." Dr. Richard C. Woellner, a physician and member of the American Lung Association of Minnesota Board, discussed the dangers of outdoor air pollutants caused in part by vehicle emissions. "Poor air quality can be life threatening for those living with cardiopulmonary disease," stated Dr. Woellner. "However, Air Quality Index levels like those experienced in the Twin Cities in the last couple of days can lead to respiratory distress for even otherwise healthy individuals." Vehicle emissions contribute to increased levels of all four pollutants that compose the Air Quality Index: ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and fine particulate matter. "Our Clean Air Initiative consists of two specific pieces of legislation designed to encourage a reduction in gasoline consumption, the emission of greenhouse gases, and toxins harmful to our health," said Sen. Dibble. "Both use financial incentives to encourage consumers to make choices that will lead to cleaner, safer air for all of us to breathe." One component of the initiative would offer tax incentives to consumers who choose hybrid vehicles. The other component is the HOURCAR legislation. Minnesota's car-sharing service, known as HOURCAR, is being launched by the non-profit Neighborhood Energy Consortium this May. The legislation would create an incentive for the public and business to participate in the program. Mary Morse, Executive Director of NEC, described the highlights of the HOURCAR program. "This legislation gives Minnesotans who are ready to use transit a real boost," said Morse. "Most of us have a car that sits parked and unused most of the time. HOURCAR offers short-term mobility options when transit just won't work." HOURCAR allows citizens the option of paying for the use of a shared vehicle on a per-trip basis. Currently, more than 30,000 Americans nationwide use a car-sharing program to supplement transportation and transit options. "The HOURCAR program fleet will include a dozen 2005 Toyota Prius vehicles, gas-electric hybrids with very low emissions," said Hornstein. "Minnesotans can take light rail or bus transit on their round trip to work and use the HOURCAR fleet as needed during the workday for errands, for example. Participants benefit from the flexibility of the transit option, and everyone benefits from healthier air quality and lower vehicle emissions." -30-