Sen. Dianne Feinstein offers plenty of tips on how California households can combat global warming, such as carpooling and running only a full dishwasher.
But one bit of information Feinstein declines to share is the number of times that she flew last year on her husband's Gulfstream jet, which burns much more fuel per passenger-mile than commercial airliners.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also has asked constituents to do their part to conserve energy -- including cutting summertime power consumption -- even though he takes to the skies on leased executive jets.
Aides say there is nothing contradictory between the pro-green pronouncements and the flying habits of the Democratic senator and Republican governor.
Some environmentalists aren't so sure.
"There appears to be a discrepancy between calling on people to make personal reductions and using a private jet that exacerbates the problem," Clean Air Watch President Frank O'Donnell said.
Flying on a Gulfstream rather than an airliner is like driving a sport utility vehicle instead of riding a bus, O'Donnell and others say.
A single cross-country round trip on a Gulfstream IV, or GIV, the model owned by Feinstein's husband, churns out about 83,000 to 90,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, experts say. By contrast, on a per capita basis, the average American produces 50,000 pounds from all activities in an entire year.
Nonetheless, Feinstein and Schwarzenegger intend to continue their noncommercial flying ways because their jobs demand a flexibility the airlines can't match, spokesmen say.
Schwarzenegger's office said he and a jet-leasing company are establishing a "carbon offset" program for the governor and fellow customers, retroactive to Jan. 1. Carbon offsets are bought from organizations that plant trees and support renewable energy enterprises, among other measures, to offset greenhouse gases produced by the buyers.
"This is big news," Schwarzenegger spokesman Bill Maile said of the governor's undertaking with NetJets, the leasing firm.
Feinstein, however, got the jump on Schwarzenegger. She began buying carbon offsets last year to partially cover the travel on the GIV, and will purchase enough offsets this year to compensate for all the trips, spokesman Scott Gerber said.
He added that Feinstein took "numerous" commercial flights in 2006, but flew mostly on the GIV. He balked at disclosing the tally of her Gulfstream journeys.
"We're not going to get into specifics," he said.
Noncommercial aircraft and other carbon-related indulgences have caused politicians considerable turbulence recently.
A conservative group has condemned Al Gore for racking up an average monthly electricity bill of $1,200 at his Nashville mansion last year while championing the anti-global warming cause. A Gore spokeswoman said the former vice president invests in renewable energy to offset his electricity use.
As part of an ethics push, the House and Senate are toughening restrictions on lawmakers who fly private jets, though exceptions for members and spouses who own planes are under consideration.
Earlier this month, Republicans accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of requesting a large military jet to fly her and family members between the capital and her San Francisco district.
Security protocols grant Pelosi occasional military flights because she is second in line to the presidency. Her office said she had only inquired about an aircraft with enough fuel capacity to make the trip nonstop, and would fly commercial if necessary.
Pelosi flew on private jets seven times in 2006, her spokesman said. "She made every effort to travel commercially whenever possible," Drew Hammill said.
Sen. Barbara Boxer says she took four trips on private aircraft last year, one with multiple stops over 2 1/2 days.
Too expensive, some critics said. Too polluting, others said. Too much ado about nothing, the White House weighed in.
Aviation expert Mike Boyd said he thought high-profile announcements by airlines are akin to building a firebreak to show the industry is taking some action.
The new software will enhance aircraft safety, reduce fuel consumption, provide access to more airports and improve operational efficiency.
Pelosi wants use of a military version of the Boeing 757-200 so she can fly non-stop to California.