Archive for May, 2006

Dependence Day

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Today marks Dependence Day, the day when, proportionately speaking, the United States effectively runs out of domestic oil and must rely completely on foreign imports for the remainder of the year. More here.

Windy days on the way

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Given the impact of last year’s hurricanes on domestic production and refining capacity, this is worrying news: Colorado State University has released its updated forecast for the 2006 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The updated forecast states that 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes (Category 3 or above) are expected to form between June 1st and November 30th.

NY Times ed board calls for action

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Today’s New York Times editorial: “the Senate… has before it the Enhanced Energy Security Act of 2006. The bill has impressive bipartisan sponsorship and incorporates the best features of an earlier (and more cumbersomely named) vehicle called the Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act. Its stated purpose is to reduce oil dependency, but the strategies and technologies it encourages would also do much to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The bill would require the president to figure out ways to cut oil consumption by 2.5 million barrels ? 12.5 percent of current use ? by 2016, and cut it in half by 2031. It offers a menu of loans, direct subsidies, tax breaks and other incentives that would encourage the production of fuel-efficient cars as well as gasoline alternatives like cellulosic ethanol. It does not mandate specific improvements in fuel economy standards ? a Congressional red flag ? yet the goal it sets would get us to the same place [...]

“This is a relatively straightforward bill with big ambitions ? to reduce the demand for oil, thus reducing America’s contribution to global warming while enhancing its national security. President Bush, who has made so much of the dependency issue without offering legislation of his own, would do the country a great favor by getting behind it.”

Senators speak out

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Senators Brownback and Salazar call for action:

“When he announced his commitment to renewable and alternative energy in his State of the Union address, President Bush joined many members of Congress who recognize the related economic and foreign policy concerns caused by our dependence on foreign oil.
Domestically, if America is to remain economically competitive, we must have access to reliable and inexpensive sources of fuel. Furthermore, rural America is facing many economic challenges caused by the rapidly changing global economy. On the international front, our dependence on oil imports from unstable regions of the world is a national security concern because it boxes in our foreign policy options.

“We have a plan supported by both Republican and Democratic senators that could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and provide a needed economic boost to America’s rural communities.
But first, consider where this issue is headed if we fail to take action: In the 1970s, our nation imported about one-third of our oil needs. Today we import 58 percent of the oil we need. By 2020, we will import 70 percent or more.

“Our plan, introduced in the Senate as the Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act [...] would begin to address our nation’s addiction to oil by setting achievable goals. This bill would help the United States save 2.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2016 and 10 million barrels per day by 2031.”

Go Indy!

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

If you watched the Indianapolis 500 this weekend, you may already know that Indy 500 race cars don’t run on gasoline. They’ve been running on the alcohol fuel methanol for years, and this year they are running on a 90% methanol 10% ethanol blend. Ethanol and methanol can be used in flexible fuel vehicles (if you haven’t read it yet, this is an excellent article by Roberta Nichols of Ford Motor Company on the subject.) Senator Evan Bayh and Jeff Simmons, who drives the Rahal-Letterman No. 17 ethanol car in the IndyCar Series, wrote the following:

“Congress has the opportunity to follow the IndyCar Series example by enacting the bipartisan Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act, which offers a realistic solution that puts us on the path toward energy independence and reduces our consumption of oil by 7 million barrels a day by 2026.
The legislation includes a variety of proposals to meet that goal by increasing our use of ethanol and other bio-fuels and enacting new tax credits to encourage more fuel-efficient vehicles. And with the backing of 25 senators from across the ideological and geographic spectrum, it has the widespread support needed to move forward in today’s overly partisan Congress.
Unlike an IndyCar, Congress doesn’t move at 220 miles an hour, but we owe it to the American people to pick up the pace before it is too late.”

Plug in for America

Friday, May 26th, 2006

Luft in the SF Chronicle:

“The president should impress upon [the CEOs of the Big Three] that a federal bailout, similar to the 1979 move by Congress to save Chrysler, is not an option. But should they decide to manufacture vehicles that enable fuel choice, electrify transportation and embrace plug-ins, Congress and the Bush administration would provide the necessary help.

“The Fuel Choices for American Security Act, bipartisan legislation which would provide the autos with incentives to retool production lines to produce hybrids, plug-ins and flex-fuel cars and consumers with tax incentives to purchase these cars, is already before Congress, co-sponsored by 25 senators (surprisingly, neither of California’s senators is a co-sponsor) and 76 representatives. In order to jump-start an initial market, the president should prod Congress to move this bill forward, and also commit to substantial incorporation of such technologies into federal, state and municipal fleets. But all this requires the industry to decide to help itself and focus on developing a technological edge over its competitors while giving American motorists new products that redefine their expectations.

“The president’s and Congress’ message to Detroit should be: Plug in for America and America will keep plugging for you. ”

A quarter of the Senate says: “It’s time to set America Free”

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Kudos to the 25 cosponsors of S.2025 – The Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act who just sent the following letter to Senators Frist and Domenici, urging action on the legislation:

“Skyrocketing oil prices have brought a renewed national focus on the problem of
U.S. dependence on oil. Our exclusive dependence on the global oil market,
which is dominated by foreign exporters, is sapping America’s power and
independence, while the steep rise in international demand for oil threatens to
heighten international tensions and undermine global stability. Under these
conditions, a well-orchestrated terrorist attack or political upheaval could place
even greater strain on the oil supply chain, rattling the global economy and
igniting a dangerous race to secure oil supplies.

“Although there are immediate steps the Congress can take to ensure that
consumers are not being taken advantage of at the pump, there is no magic wand
the government can wave to make oil prices drop. The high gas prices we are
facing today can only be addressed by a serious, long-term effort to reduce our
dependence on oil.

“According to news reports, you are currently working on legislation to address
high oil prices. We urge you to include our bi-partisan legislation, that has been
cosponsored by twenty-five Senators, S. 2025, the Vehicle and Fuel Choices for
American Security Act, in its entirety as part of your legislative package. Our bill
sets aggressive, yet achievable, targets to reduce U.S. dependence on oil. Senate
bill 2025 provides tools to meet these targets by improving the efficiency of
vehicles and increasing the production and use of biofuels. It includes new
approaches for manufacturers, the federal government, scientists and consumers,
all designed to encourage greater energy security.

Addressing our dependence on oil is a challenge that we can no longer ignore. It
is time to set America free.
Therefore, we intend to offer S. 2025 as an
amendment and insist on a vote during the upcoming energy debate, if it is not
included in the base bill.

“Thank you for your consideration.”

Evan Bayh
Sam Brownback
Joe Lieberman
Norm Coleman
Ken Salazar
Richard G. Lugar
Barack Obama
Lincoln Chafee
Johnny Isakson
Daniel K. Akaka
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Christopher J. Dodd
Herb Kohl
Maria Cantwell
Daniel K. Inouye
John F. Kerry
Blanche L. Lincoln
Jack Reed

(to see the PDF file of the letter with signatures, click here)

Are your Senators on board yet?

Plug ins go to DC, the summary

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

Lots of pictures and a summary of the event HERE.


Saturday, May 20th, 2006

to Rep Betty McCollum [MN-4], Rep David Scott [GA-13], and Rep Lamar Smith[TX-21] for becoming cosponsors of HR4409, The Fuel Choices for American Security Act.
Is your Representative on board yet?

Plug in hybrids make the rounds on Capitol Hill

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

Set America Free and Calcars plug in hybrid vehicle journey around Capitol Hill today was a great success. As promised yesterday, some photos of today’s press conference and Member test drives. More to come tommorow.

100+mpg in front of the Capitol.

A pre demo briefing to Capitol Police.

Congressmen Kingston and Engel take the car for a spin.

Senator Sam Brownback, accompanied by Frank Gaffney and Felix Kramer, tries out some new wheels.

Congressmen Kingston, Engel, and Smith examine the required infrastructure.

House Science Committee Energy Subcommittee Rep. Biggert holds the required infrastructure: a plug.

Senator Jeff Bingaman, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy Committee.

Senator Hillary Clinton stopped by to take a look.

Former Majority Leader Senator Daschle enjoying the ride.

Check out more pictures on Rep. Jack Kingston’s blog.