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June 2, 2011

It’s a time-worn tradition in New Jersey -- complaining that the governor abuses his position by traveling around the state by helicopter. Every governor since Brendan Byrne has had to face the charge that he or she is somehow abusing the public trust by crossing the state via the air, whether or not for public business.

Jeff Tittle, NJ Sierra Club director, piled on the recent "copter-gate" by noting that a single-engine helicopter gets about 2.5 miles per gallon. This is compared with an SUV -- the governor’s method of road transportation -- which gets about 16 miles to the gallon. To his credit, Tittle did note that when the governor travels on the ground, he is accompanied by at least two other SUVs, which would result in about 5 miles per gallon gas consumption.

Nevertheless, it’s interesting to note that New Jersey is about 170 miles long -- just long enough to make it difficult to get around conveniently by car but too compact to justify a private state plane, something many U.S. governors enjoy. A private plane, by the way, consumes between 1.3 and 5 miles per gallon.

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