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'The Wrong Direction' 

Editor:

Among the many downsides of drive-thrus, one that receives relatively little attention is their contribution to air pollution and climate change ("Eureka's Appetite for Fast-food Chains," March 10). Any driver who pays any attention to fuel efficiency knows that idling wastes gas. On average (depending on engine type), an hour of idling consumes 0.7 gallon of gas. Let's say the average drive-thru user spends five minutes a day in line at a coffee shop or restaurant. That's 21 gallons a year, which equates to 417 pounds of carbon dioxide. Per vehicle. (At current gas prices, it's also about $125.) Although turning the engine off is worthwhile if one is going to idle for more than 30 seconds, it's not practical to do so repeatedly in a drive-thru line.

I don't think I need to tell anyone reading this that we're running out of time to halt global warming. Adding drive-thrus seems like a step in the wrong direction. A growing list of cities, including Long Beach, Minneapolis and Palm Desert, have recognized this and banned construction of new drive-thrus for environmental, as well as public health and aesthetic, reasons. Maybe it's time Eureka joined their ranks.

Idling causes air and noise pollution and contributes to global warming. The planet doesn't care whether you're idling for a red light or a double latte mochaFfrappuccino. The next time you're heading for a drive-thru, think about the impacts of doing so and consider parking and going inside instead. And buy yourself something nice with that $125.

Ken Burton, McKinleyville

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