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SUVs good for environment

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Drive through a neighborhood just about anywhere in the United States and you will likely see a sport utility vehicle in just about every other driveway. Why are more and more homeowners buying sport utilities? The reasons are safety, lifestyle, economy and the environment.

Sport utility vehicles are safer than most small cars, and the safety of our children is a paramount concern to most homeowners. We want to transport them our kids in the safest possible vehicle. Unfortunately small cars are just not as safe as sport utilities.

Sport utilities are also part of our lifestyle. We use them to haul furniture and other large purchases in order to save the time and cost of a delivery truck. We tow our boats and carry all the suitcases and lots and lots of gear we need for our family vacation. Do you think we could do any of those things in a small car?

Instead of two moms each carrying three kids to the soccer game in their small cars, the moms can take turns, with one of the moms carrying all six kids in her seven-passenger SUV.

When homeowners take advantage of many of the features of SUVs, they are also helping the environment. The soccer mom with six kids is probably using less gas than she and her friend would use together if each drove three kids to the game in most small cars.

Most homeowners are pro-environment. We like family camping, or fishing or hunting, and we are happy that SUVs can often help reduce energy consumption.

It is unfortunate that some of the more extreme environmental groups are pushing for unrealistically high fuel efficiency standards for SUVs.

It's not that we're against higher fuel efficiency standards — who likes to pay high gas prices? The market is currently doing a pretty good job of improving the mileage of SUVs.

Most homeowners do want to see even more improvements in fuel efficiency standards, but not on a timetable so short that it would cause substantial increases in SUV prices in this time of economic uncertainty.

On this issue the free market is largely working the way it's supposed to work. SUVs became the most popular car model in America and their continuing popularity is a big reason that the bottom line of the U.S. auto industry is healthier and has avoided layoffs. SUV fuel efficiency has improved substantially in recent decades, and that is also driving SUV sales.

Bottom line: Federal government, don't mess with my SUV.

Beth Hahn heads the American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, an organization dedicated to educating legislators, policymakers and the American people on issues affecting American homeownership.