updated 7/24/2009 11:17:26 AM ET 2009-07-24T15:17:26

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has apologized that his sport utility vehicles have been idling for long periods of time.

Bloomberg ordered his drivers to stop the practice this week after The Associated Press reported observing the parked vehicles' engines running for long stretches.

Bloomberg said Friday on his weekly radio show that there was no excuse and that he thoroughly apologized.

The city's three-minute idling limit — which Bloomberg recently shortened to one minute around schools — did not legally apply to the mayor's SUVs, which are classified as emergency vehicles.

But Bloomberg has portrayed himself as a leader on climate change, an image he played up as he explored his viability as a 2008 presidential candidate.

In 2007, he announced that by 2030, he wanted to reduce the city's carbon count by 30 percent.

Wasting energy
The mayor wasn't just violating his own environmental agenda when he lets his SUVs idle. He was wasting fuel and money, environmentalists say.

Idling for one hour burns anywhere from half a gallon to a gallon of fuel, experts say.

It is more polluting to leave an engine idling than to drive for the same amount of time, according to David Pettit, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Southern California air program.

Bloomberg's suburbans run on E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

The emissions are about 15 percent lower, but the fuel economy is also lower by as much as 30 percent because ethanol has less energy than gasoline, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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