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Sierra Club Goes After HUMMER Again


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Even though HUMMER sales are flattening, environmental groups plan to keep up their attack on the General Motors extreme SUV brand. Only hours after GM announced last week it would roll out the mid-size HUMMER H3 next year, the Sierra Club countered by unveiled an updated Web site, www.hummerdinger.com, critical of all HUMMERs.

Sierra club representatives said the Web site is using humor and sarcasm to criticize the Bush administration’s $100,000 SUV tax loophole, commonly referred to as
the “HUMMER Tax Loophole.”

“While GM is touting the H3 as a ‘smaller,’ more ‘fuel efficient’ HUMMER, the H2 still weighs in well above the threshold of 6000 pounds, qualifying it for an enormous $100,000 tax deduction,” the Sierra Club’s attack noted.

“Why is the Bush administration giving a $100,000 tax deduction to the biggest gas guzzlers on the road, and letting the $1500 tax deduction for fuel-efficient hybrid cars phase out?” said Brendan Bell, a global warming and energy expert with the Sierra Club’s Global Warming program. “The Bush administration is telling car-buyers that if they choose the vehicles that add the most to the country’s oil dependence, taxpayers will pick up the tab,” he added.

The so-called HUMMER Loophole, however, is firmly tied to the tax break for pickup trucks. For years, the U.S. tax code has included a provision that allows deductions for heavy-duty pickups. The deduction was originally included to help farmers and is widely supported by both Democrats and Republicans. Last year, however, the loophole was expanded to include expensive SUVs such as the HUMMER.

The extension tax-break for hybrids, which is being pushed both by automakers and environmentalists, has been tied up in Congressional infighting.

Tax-break blues

The big luxury-SUV tax break has not stopped HUMMER sales from dropping over the past year. Overall sales of the H2 are down almost 25 percent. Pete Ternes, HUMMER director of communication, says the sales have strengthened in July with the introduction of the sport-utility truck or SUT version of the H2. Sales are unlikely to reach the figures posted after HUMMER's introduction, he said. GM is planning to increase sales to about 100,000 units per year for the brand with the introduction of the smaller H3.

Meanwhile, it appears the broad cultural attack on the HUMMER that has made it a symbol of derision is continuing and probably has not helped HUMMER sales. HUMMER's target audience tends to be fashion conscious and the criticism may have scared off some potential buyers.

The Sierra Club Web site, in fact, features new stories, such as, “President Bush Signs Leave No HUMMER Behind Bill,” as well as offering traffic and weather reports fit for a HUMMER-sized world. For instance, the traffic report parodies HUMMER's ‘Jack’ advertisement, by reporting that three lanes of freeway traffic are being blocked by Jack’s enormous HUMMER in his attempt to win the soapbox derby.

The Web site also features parody ads advertising a “Dick Cheney approved” Halliburton HUMMER H2 oil rig, and videos mimicking HUMMER ads. The Web site also features the TV ad, “Out of Gas,” which was created by the Detroit Project.

”With gas prices going through the roof and our oil dependence getting
worse, the Bush administration should be helping Americans get behind the
wheel of hybrid vehicles and other fuel-efficient vehicles,” Bell said. “Instead, they are actually encouraging people to buy the most polluting gas-guzzlers on the road.”

Bell added the Sierra Club believes the technology exists today to make all cars, trucks, and SUVs go farther on a gallon of gas, while maintaining the safety, affordability, and other features consumers demand. These innovative technologies range from hybrid-electric engines to other conventional gas-saving technologies like more efficient engines, smarter transmissions, and sleeker aerodynamics.

“Making all new vehicles average 40 miles per gallon within ten years is the biggest single step we can take to curb global warming, cut America’s oil dependence, and save consumers’ money at the gas pump,” said Bell.

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