Orcutt apologizes after saying bicyclists pollute by breathing

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, faced quite the backlash over the weekend when he was quoted as saying that perhaps bicyclists contribute to climate change by breathing heavily and therefore emitting carbon dioxide into the air.

Orcutt made the comment in an email, which soon appeared on the Bike Portland blog. The story was picked up by many media outlets in the Seattle area and even by The Huffington Post.

Here’s exactly what Orcutt said in that email:

“You claim that is is environmentally friendly to ride a bike. But if I am not mistaken a cyclists [sic] has an increased heart rate and respiration. That means the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider. Since CO2 is deemed a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride.”

Orcutt, whose hometown of Kalama features pedestrian and bike paths along the Columbia River, later issued an apology.

“Although I have always recognized that bicycling emits less carbon than cars, I see I did a poor job of indicating that within my e-mail,” Orcutt wrote. “My point was that by not driving a car, a cyclist was not necessarily having a zero-carbon footprint. In looking back, it was not a point worthy of even mentioning so, again, I apologize – both for bringing it up and for the wording of the e-mail.”

Orcutt made it clear that he does not support a tax on bicyclists based on the carbon emissions coming from their lungs.

Liberal blogger Temple Lentz even had some fun with the story on her website, The Daily ‘Couv.

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