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Washington goes green? Three senators who drive plug-in cars.

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Jeff Barnard/AP/File

(Read caption) In this March 2012 file photo, a Nissan Leaf tops off its battery in Central Point, Ore., at one of the charging stations along Interstate 5. The nation's capitol will soon have electric plug in stations in its parking garages.

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Last week, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that would allow the installation of electric-car charging stations in U.S. Capitol parking garages.

That got us to wondering, how many U.S. Senators and Representatives actually drive plug-in cars?

With the help of Juan Barnett, aka DCAutoGeek, and the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA), so far we've identified three.

And, perhaps bucking stereotypes, they're not all Democrats either.

Here's our list:

Senator Lamar Alexander [R-TN]

Alexander has driven a 2011 Nissan Leaf since just a couple of months after the first battery-electric Leaf was sold in the U.S. in December 2010.

Before that, according to floor testimony from May 2011, he drove a Toyota Prius that had been modified to turn it into a plug-in hybrid, courtesy of an A123 HyMotion battery pack and conversion kit.

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Testifying about electric cars last May, Alexander said:

Another reason I think this will work is because it is easy for consumers, and I am one. For 2 years, I drove a Toyota Prius, and it had an A123 battery in it. I increased my mileage to about 80 or 90 miles a gallon. I just plugged it in at night at home. Very simple.

I now have a Nissan Leaf. It is all electric. I have an apartment nearby the Capitol. I just plug it in at night. I don’t even have a charger. I just plug it into the wall, and I can drive it about 2 hours every day and plug it in at night. I have not bought any gas since January, since I got my Leaf in Washington, DC.
I have had no problems, either with the modified Toyota Prius that I drove for 2 years, or with the Nissan Leaf that I have driven now for about half a year. Almost every car company is making electric cars today or will soon have them on the market.

Representative Janice Hahn [D-CA]

In February this year, Hahn--who represents a House district in San Pedro, south of Los Angeles--testified on the impact of high gas prices on her California constituents:
I happen to drive a Nissan Leaf, an all-electric vehicle, which will be built right here in America in Tennessee in the near future. This gives me the benefit of driving past gas stations, but I don’t have to fill up my tank to be shocked by the prices at the pump.

And if given the opportunity, I think most Americans would jump at the chance to join me in driving right past those high gas prices and stop sending hundreds of billions of dollars to the Middle East.

Hahn also supported S.739, noting that she was one of only two members of Congress to own and drive an electric vehicle (we assume she's not counting Senator Levin's Volt, below).

Senator Carl Levin [D-MI]

Michigan's senior senator bought a 2011 Chevrolet Volt in the spring of 2011. The Volt, it's worth noting, is a local product for him, built in GM's Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.

Levin sponsored S.739, the bill to allow electric-car chargers to be installed in the Senate garage (at no cost to taxpayers). In his testimony, he said:

I am a proud owner of a Chevrolet Volt, but I also want to ensure that the taxpayers do not subsidize the cost of my or anyone else’s use of electricity to power these vehicles.

So far, these three are the only members of Congress we've identified as driving plug-in electric cars.

If you know of any others, please let us know--with links!--in the Comments below.


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