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ENVIRONMENT REPORT -  Green Transportation Festival - 2003-06-12

Broadcast: June 13, 2003:

This is the VOA Special English Environment Report.

Energy saving vehicles were part of the Green Transportation Festival in Washington, D.C., last month. The vehicles shown are designed to reduce America’s dependence on oil and help the environment. The festival takes place in several American cities.

There are exhibits of cars, buses and motorized bicycles at the festivals. Most of them use little gas or use another kind of fuel such as biodiesel, electricity, hydrogen, natural gas or propane. People are also urged to consider simpler ways of getting around, such as walking, biking and using public transportation systems. Personal transportation vehicles, called scooters, are also gaining interest. These methods all avoid or reduce the use of gasoline and diesel fuel, which are made from oil.

Individuals, students and carmakers took part in the festival. They wanted to show people what their so-called “green” vehicles could do. Teams of students competed for prizes.

The United States has less than five-percent of the world’s population. But it uses about twenty-five percent of the world’s oil.

More than half of the nation’s oil is imported. Most of it goes to transportation.

But festival organizers say progress in technology is making it possible for Americans to reduce their dependence on oil for transportation. That is because the kinds of energy-saving vehicles are increasing. Hybrid vehicles, for example, combine a gasoline engine and an electric motor. There are thousands on the road today. They can reduce gasoline use by as much as fifty-percent. Vehicles powered by biodiesel fuel, electricity, ethanol, hydrogen or natural gas can reduce oil use by as much as ninety-nine percent.

Festival organizers say that efforts to reduce oil imports in the United States would also have important environmental and public health benefits. The burning of oil as fuel is responsible for a large share of the gases blamed for changes in the world climate. When gasoline is burned in cars, it also pollutes the air. This leads to breathing problems, cancer and other health problems.

Organizers say that strong public demand for hybrids and vehicles that use other kinds of fuels could force carmakers to produce more such vehicles. That is the goal of the Green Transportation Festival.

This VOA Special English Environment Report was written by Cynthia Kirk.