Jan 26, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This is PART of the California Cars Initiative's UNOFFICIAL transcript of the Plug-In Partners Press Conference held in Washington DC on January 24, 2006. CalCars' goal in producing this is to promulgate as broadly as possible what was said at this historic event. We haven't seen as good and current a presentation of the benefits of PHEVs and of the scope of the campaign anywhere else.
Because this has been prepared as rapidly as possible, by volunteers, before you quote from it we urge you to check the authoritative source: the streaming video webcast of the 82-minute long event, found at http://www.pluginpartners.org or http://www.connectlive.com/events/austinenergy, which will be available until January 2007. For your convenience in doing so, the text includes time-stamps that are keyed to that webcast. Audio versions of the event are also available via EV World at http://www.evworld.com/view.cfm?section=article&storyid=961
To keep the email within Yahoo Groups limits (it may get truncated), included below are the statements ONLY -- not the transcript of the video that was shown or the Q&A, For the full transcript, go to http://www.calcars.org/partners-launch.html. We encourage you to link to that page.
[Roger Duncan, Deputy General Manager, Austin Energy] I want to thank everyone for coming this morning, and welcome you to the kick-off event for the Plug-In Partners campaign. I want to also welcome those of you who are watching by the webcast this morning. We are going to move through the agenda rather quickly this morning, but before I start, I would like to make a couple of introductions. The Plug-In Partners campaign is an initiative of the city of Austin, Texas, and I would like to start by introducing some of our officials here from the city of Austin.
I'd like to start with City Council Member Jennifer Kim: Ms. Kim, thank you for being here. [applause] And we also have with us this morning Austin City Manager Toby Futrell. [applause] And the General Manager of Austin Energy, Juan Garza. [applause]
You have before you the agenda for this press conference. We will open with the Mayor of Austin in just a moment. As we move through the agenda, I also wanted to let you know ahead of time that we're hopeful that Senator Hatch will be here at about 10:15 or so. At that time, he will speak and answer questions to the media, immediately after his talk, and then we will finish with the press event. At the end of the speakers I will moderate questions and answers, and at that time we'll also have microphones for the reporters to ask their questions.
So I would like to go ahead and start the event. As I said, the Plug-In Partners Campaign is an initiative of the City of Austin, and to start it off, I'd like to introduce The Honorable Will Wynn, Mayor, City of Austin.
[Will Wynn] [2:00] Thanks, Roger, and good morning -- thank you all very much for being here. Today marks the beginning of an unprecedented national grassroots campaign. It's a movement that says, "We have a problem -- a serious problem." And it's a serious problem that's not being addressed. Actually, three problems:
Number one -- an over-dependence on foreign oil. It's a serious threat to the well-being of our country right now, and it's an even greater threat to our future. Two -- automobile emissions, that are fueling smog in our cities and that are a large source of greenhouse gasses that are warming our planet. And three -- fuel costs, that are ratcheting up and resettling at levels higher and higher, hurting everyone, right now, every day. When it takes thirty, forty, even fifty dollars to fill up your tank, and really only good for just a few days of commuting. Right now, escalating fuel costs are driving up the price of everything -- goods and services -- things that we buy and use and that our economy depends on.
So we're here today to kick off a nationwide grassroots campaign called "Plug-In Partners," bringing together local governments, businesses, cities, organizations, and community groups from across the entire country, to say to the automakers, "Americans understand the problem, and Americans will deal with the problem. If you will build plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, Americans will buy them." And we will demonstrate that that market exists through this year-long campaign.
The Plug-In Partners Campaign consists of four key components. Number one, a pledge of support, through a letter or resolution, from a participating entity, like the City of Austin (and we'll list several others later). [Two] A citizens petition drive -- signatures -- again, demonstrating that demand. [Three] Soft fleet orders, or expressions of interest, from businesses, governments, organizations, to in fact purchase these plug-in vehicles when they become available. And number four, incentives, at the community level, to help citizens and businesses purchase these plug-in hybrids as they first roll off the assembly lines. In Austin, Texas alone, we now have already collected eleven thousand signatures. We have compiled soft fleet orders for nearly 600 vehicles -- many of those from our private sector. And we have set aside $1,000,000 for rebates and incentives. And our goal now is to replicate this effort in cities and local areas all across this country.
The campaign actually only starts today, but it's already been joined by major cities, such as San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Baltimore. Congratulations and my thanks for the leadership of Mayors Newsom, Hickenlooper, Nickels, Villaraigosa, and O'Malley. And there are many, many more on the way. You're probably aware that tomorrow we kick off our annual U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting here in D.C. -- there's probably 300 of 1,000 member Mayors in attendance. I chair the Energy Committee, and we will be presenting this campaign, as well as others, as best practices for many, many more local jurisdictions to become aware of.
We've already been joined by over 100 local power utilities -- the City of Austin happens to own our municipally-owned utility, Austin Energy. We're a proud member of the American Public Power Association, and now 100 of those utilities have joined in the program. And it's also been joined by major environmental and National Security interest groups across the country.
So today marks our invitation to the entire country: let's join together, and let's get something done. Something that will benefit each and every one of us, but more importantly, will benefit America. Let's demonstrate that a market for these flexible-fuel plug-in hybrids exists. Again, let's get something done -- thank you all for being here this morning, and I think we're going to roll a video.
[Roger Duncan] [16:21] As Mayor Wynn has indicated, there are many partners that have joined us in this campaign. We'd like to start this morning with our first partner, Charles Fox, Deputy Secretary to Governor George Pataki of New York, for Energy and the Environment. Charles...
[Charles Fox] Good morning everyone. I just want to than the Press Club and Plug-In Partners Campaign for having me down here to talk about some of the things that Governor Pataki is trying to do to reduce New York's dependence on petroleum, and imported petroleum in particular.
New York has the most efficient transportation system in the country. On a per capita basis, more people use mass transit in New York than in any other state. But even though that's the case, our transportation system is still 95% dependent on petroleum -- and the vast majority of that is imported over a long and tenuous supply chain that we all know too well can be subject to interference by people who would like to do harm to us. That means that every loaf of bread, every kid that's on their way to school, and every ambulance is dependent on a supply chain that is [susceptible] to interruption, and that is an economic imperative and an environmental imperative and a security imperative that we begin to do something about it.
A week ago today, Governor Pataki introduced his Executive Budget for 2006. The budget proposal includes hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives and 50 million dollars in direct capital spending, intended to diversify New York's fuel supply and make our motor vehicles more efficient. It included grant programs for private-sector gas stations to allow those stations to install renewable fuel pumps -- so that folks who are driving and stop in their neighborhood gas station can have a choice between petroleum or a renewable fuel made right here in New York or right here in the United States. It includes tax incentives so that all renewable fuels are completely tax-free in New York. It also includes a proposal so that renewable fuel pumps will be available at every rest stop on the New York State through-way. And finally on the renewable fuels side, it includes a $20 million program to build a cellulosic ethanol facility to create the first pilot-plant (we hope) that will produce ethanol from woody biomass as opposed to corn, and thereby drastically raising the energy balance of the ethanol.
But I think for today's discussion, most importantly it focuses very much on vehicle efficiency, and actually trying to get out and show people that these things can be done -- much like the video we just saw. I just want to reiterate, the technologies that we're talking about are largely available today. With a few small improvements, particularly in battery technology, we have right around the corner the ability for drivers to drive past the gas station and say I'd rather purchase a renewable fuel, or I'd rather run my vehicle on electricity, or -- best of both worlds -- I'd rather do both. And that allows the market to work and it gives consumers a choice, and it gives consumers the ability to choose an American product and stop sending all of our energy dollars overseas to places where people will use it in some cases to hurt us.
The Governor's budget proposal includes specifically ten million dollars to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for the purpose of actually getting out and deploying plug-in hybrid flexible fuel vehicles. We're going to work with private sector companies -- hopefully bring them to New York -- to deploy these vehicles, and we're going to do so in conjunction with a new Advanced Vehicle Technology Laboratory that small companies can use to try to get their vehicles on the road towards certification. Our hope is that in the very near future, to deploy a hybrid flex-fuel vehicle, and then very soon thereafter to start deploying hybrid flex-fuel plug-in vehicles.
We also have a ten million dollar proposal within this budget for the sole purpose of R&D on specific niche technologies that are critical to bringing about this new reality that we're working for. Folks mentioned the batteries and other pieces -- very light-weight vehicle parts. And again the New York Energy Research and Development Authority is going to be a leader out there, trying to incentivize the private sector to try to bring about the kind of vehicle technologies that we all know we need, and we need to get out there and show everyone that this can be done. Once we do it, it's going to be impossible for people to say that these things can't be done. And again, as the Mayor indicated, we need to give the consumers the power to show the automobile manufacturers and others that these technologies are desired in the marketplace, and let's hope they'll sell them once that happens.
So, the key thing for us is to obviously get our budget proposals through, but once we do that, we think that his presents an opportunity to turn the twin challenges of energy dependence and climate change into an economic opportunity -- for New York, and hopefully for the American people to stop sending all of our energy dollars overseas, recapture them, build new technologies, and then export those technologies around the world as people try to reduce their own dependence and fight climate change.
So, thank you very much. [applause]
The next partner we'd like to introduce in this effort is Mr. James Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, currently with Booz Allen Hamilton. Mr. Woolsey...
[Jim Woolsey] [21:45] Thank you, Roger, I was honored to be invited to be on this distinguished panel this morning, but to tell you the truth, since I spent 22 years as a Washington lawyer, and then I spent some time at the CIA in the Clinton Administration, I'm actually pretty well-honored to be invited into any polite company, for any purposes whatsoever. [laughter]
The first question in a lot of people's minds about this campaign is "What's new? You know, we had oil dependence problems in the '70s, we started the Synfuels Corporation -- too expensive, went bankrupt; now people are again concerned about fuel dependence & oil dependence... aren't we kind of just going through the same cycle again?"
Three things are different, I think, from the 19'70s. First of all, the vulnerability of our oil infrastructure is extraordinarily greater -- close to double. We were coming close to 33% of imports of oil in the 19'70s, and people were getting very worried about that, and now we're well over 50%, and the oil infrastructure -- whereas it was vulnerable in the 19'70s to cutoffs, such as a coup in Saudi Arabia that was attempted in 1979, or a policy decision by a Middle Eastern State -- today it's vulnerable to, say, Al Qaeda flying a hi-jacked aircraft into the sulfur-clearing towers near Ras Tanura in Northeastern Saudi Arabia and taking, say, four to six million barrels a day offline, just like that, and throwing oil up to well over $100/barrel. We also, uniquely in this war on terrorism and Islamist Terror in the Middle East, are paying for both sides of the war. This is the only war the United States has ever fought in which we pay for both sides.
We pay for our side, and then we pay -- we borrow -- 250 billion dollars, approximately, per year, to import oil -- about a billion dollars every working day. Much of it goes in IOUs, indirectly, to these countries in the Middle East, and they use it -- particularly Saudi Arabia through the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia -- use it to, in part, run madrasas in Pakistan, institutes in various parts of the world, to teach a form of Islam, they say, that is fanatically hostile to Shiite Muslims, Sufi Muslims, Jews, Christians, women, democracy, music... that is essentially the same ideology as Al Qaida. The only thing that the Wahhabis and Al Qaeda disagree about is the same thing that the Stalinists and the Trotskyites disagreed about in the 1930s -- who should be in charge. But the underlying, hate-filled ideology is one that we pay for -- its dissemination -- every time we pull up to the pump.
So, in the immortal words of Pogo, we've met the enemy and he is us. If you want to know who's paying for those madrasas in Pakistan to teach hatred and propensity to terrorism, next time you pull in and fill up, just look in the mirror.
Now... that's new -- that set of issues is new. The second thing that's new is that this time around, the people who are promoting plug-in hybrids -- Andy, his wonderful work at Cal Davis for years -- have it right, with respect to the infrastructure. A lot of the changes that were going to be made in the 19'70s required huge changes in the energy infrastructure of the country. That's the problem with hydrogen now. If I were to leave you with six words to remember from what I'm saying here, with respect to any of the values that we've been talking in -the importance of moving away from oil and so forth ... Forget Hydrogen. Forget Hydrogen. Forget Hydrogen.
Massive changes in the energy infrastructure and in the transportation vehicle infrastructure would be necessary; whereas for a plug-in hybrid, we need a bigger battery and, yes, there is an infrastructure investment: an extension cord... each family would need an extension cord.
So, the focus on minimal changes to the infrastructure is something that has been thought through, now -- a lot better than it had been in the '70s when people started things like the Synfuels Corporation.
The third thing is the interaction, I think, with the environment -- because, at the same time one is moving to plug-in hybrids and using existing electricity capacity -- not building new power plants, as the videos say -- but using existing electrical capacity, one is therefore limiting the expulsion of greenhouse gasses, the emission of greenhouse gasses, helping the environment. One is helping with poor countries such as Bangladesh, that their major barrier to development is the huge debt that they have to carry -- the reason most countries have to carry debt is because they can't pay for 60-70 dollar-a-barrel or certainly more expensive oil with commodities, textiles, and what they have to export. One is helping the rural parts of the United States, where synfuels such as cellulosic ethanol can be grown for purposes of moving toward flexible fuel vehicles -- hybrids as well as plug-in hybrids. One is, I think, talking about lack of dependence on a very volatile part of the world as I mentioned, and you will find, interestingly, and increasingly in days to come, more public statements about this -- Evangelical groups are starting to show real interest in this area, and taking some stands as they say, 'We missed.. the-- some of their spokesman) 'We missed backing the civil rights revolution as soon as Martin Luther King said what he said. We should have been in that, and now we're going to be here, helping with respect to global warming and we're going to do it now because we want to be good stewards of God's creation.
I call this a coalition between the tree-huggers, the do-gooders, the sod-busters, the chief hawks, and the evangelicals. Once you have a coalition of that diversity and that size, the politicians -- believe me -- will notice.
Thank you. [applause] Thank you, Jim. Our next speaker and partner in this effort is Frank Gaffney. Frank is the founder and President of the Center for Security Policy.
[Frank Gaffney] [28:45] Thank you Roger. My job is to be the act follower to Jim Woolsey, which is always a tough one, especially since much of what he said, I would say as well. There are three other things, I think, that he didn't mention. There are also new [concerns] that add further to the national security imperative behind this initiative.
One is that virtually every place we get oil from is either unstable, politically, or downright hostile to us. Jim has mentioned of course Saudi Arabia -- and its at the top of the list, as far as I'm concerned, in terms of places that are hostile to us upon whom we are dependent. But you go through the rest of the roster and it isn't much prettier. Iran is much in the news of late -- who knows where that's going to go. Nigeria, Venezuela, even Mexico, all places where we're seeing trends, if not very strong direction, that is very hostile to us, and compounding the problem of our dependency.
The second is the emergence of new competitors for those energy supplies -- notably Communist China, and not far behind, India -- with burgeoning demands and a willingness to make deals with all of the aforementioned countries to take any oil that we can't or won't.
And then finally, there's the problem that I'm not expert enough to give a firm answer to, but I think it's in prospect if it's not already here, and that is peak oil.
You put all of these things together, and it's transparently obvious that the way we've been doing business as a country is no longer tenable. It's not tenable from an economic point of view, and it most especially is no longer tenable from a national security point of view.
Consequently, at the risk of shameless self-promotion, I'm going to advertise a book that we've done on this subject, called War Footing -- Ten Steps America must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World, and I do so in part because Jim has been kind enough to give us a forward for it. My friend Gal Luft is one of the contributors to the step that talks about energy security, and the necessity to be moving in the direction that, with Gal's leadership, we've called Set America Free -- at the core of which is the idea of utilizing existing technologies (as Jim has talked about and others will to): notably, combined hybrid and plug-in and recharging options, greatly to diminish the amount of oil that we consume in the place that we consume most of it and most inefficiently -- namely, in our transportation sector.
So, we're very pleased to be part of this coalition, and very excited about the leadership that is coming from below and very hopeful that as Jim has said, politicians from the top will take notice, and I call on President Bush -- right here, right now -- to make this initiative part and parcel of this year's State of the Union Address and at the top of his agenda, and that of the Congress in 2006.
Thank you very much. [applause]
[Roger Duncan] [32:47] Thank you, Frank. As Jim pointed out, an important part of this coalition is what he called the "Tree-Huggers", and I'm comfortable with that label. But an important representative today of the environmental community, I'd like to introduce Kateri Callahan, the President of the Alliance to Save Energy.
[Kateri Callahan] [33:06] Thank you, and I'm proud to be referred to as a tree-hugger, and a nut-eater and whatever other thing you want to sling this way.
Thank you for having me here today. I'd like to begin by congratulating the City of Austin and Austin Energy on this innovative partnership, which we are very proud to be a part of: a partnership to drive and develop a market for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. It's very important -- I've worked with the auto industry for many years, and they have a mantra: We build what customers want...
Well if they'd been listening over the last couple of years, they'd know that customers today want and are interested in hybrid electric vehicles. And with this partnership, the customers of tomorrow will be demanding very soon -- tomorrow -- plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. And I would say to anyone that would doubt that the City of Austin and Austin Energy have the power and capability and the commitment to do this, to look at their history and their track record. The Alliance to Save Energy was pleased to give them an award in 2003 for -- since 1982, the city and Austin Energy have been investing 15 million dollars a year in energy efficiency, and what have they gotten for that commitment and that investment? They have reduced energy use by the equivalent of a 500MW power plant annually. So they will do what they say they will do and we're pleased to be a part of it.
From the perspective of the Alliance to Save Energy, what they are doing is very important, because we believe that the cheapest, quickest, and the cleanest way to improve and reduce energy use in the transportation sector is by improving fuel economy and that's something that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can do in spades.
We have a conundrum that we look at. In this country, we have two percent of the world's population, we have only five percent of the world's oil reserves, and yet we are gobbling up 25% of the oil that the world consumes every day. That's simply not sustainable.
So, significantly lowering energy use in the transportation sector -- which is the main culprit for our oil dependence -- is very important. Plug-In hybrids, with a 20-mile range, are projected to cut petroleum use by as much as 60% and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds. And as we move into plug-in hybrids using renewable fuels, that situation only gets better. Greenhouse gasses are reduced even more, as it petroleum use.
Right now, and it's been said in the slides and other places, that the transportation sector is 97% dependent on oil and for practical applications, Jim Woolsey said "Don't think Hydrogen, don't think Hydrogen." But if you want to think it, it's still decades away, no matter how you cut it.
So, looking at PHEVs, what we see as an organization that promotes energy efficiency, is a very practical, very real, very here-today technology. It's immediate, it can help us reduce petroleum use, improve the environmental performance of our vehicles and importantly, it represents at a minimum, a bridge technology and perhaps even the final technology of a sustainable transportation of the future.
Thank you. We're pleased to be part of this. [applause]
[Roger Duncan] [36:35] Thank you, Kateri. Mayor Wynn mentioned, and others before, the utility industry is obviously a very important part of this coalition. We are proud members of the American Public Power Association in Austin, and we're proud to see public power leading the way again to solve the energy problems of this country.
So it's my pleasure to introduce Alan Richardson, the President and CEO of the American Public Power Association.
[Alan Richardson] [37:00] Thank you, Roger. It's my pleasure to be here. I'm Alan Richardson, the President and CEO of the American Public Power Association, representing the interests of more than 2,000 publicly-owned, locally-controlled electric utilities around the country. Mayor, it's a real pleasure to have Austin Energy in the lead on this, a public-power community and a wonderful city. And Juan, council Member, Roger Duncan... you've got some terrific talent there to lead this effort, a truly outstanding grassroots effort.
It's sort of to the point where almost everything's been said, just not everybody has had a chance to say them. So I'm not just going to reiterate the arguments that people have made, but I will say that the case for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can be boiled down into short-hand that people understand: energy security, vulnerability to foreign sources of oil, greenhouse gas emissions, the environment, economic security. People understand those arguments almost intuitively, and when you say there is one answer that addresses each of these issues and it's plug-in hybrid electric vehicles... they get it. And the proof of that is the fact that 140 -- I heard they're up to 140 now -- publicly-owned electric utilities around the country in 33 states, and these are not just general managers who sign off on a little "I want to be part of the Plug-In Hybrid program" -- these managers take their participation to their own city councils or their own boards of directors and educate them and then sign on to a campaign like this. And 140 is just the tip -- Mayor, we're going to keep pushing.
But that is really evidence that this is a grassroots campaign that has momentum that will be sustained, and I'm convinced for the reasons we're already hearing this morning, will be successful, so thank you again for your leadership. It is my pleasure to be hear with you this morning.
[Roger Duncan] [39:00] Our last couple of presentations speak to some of the technical aspects of the plug-in hybrid, particularly answering some of the questions that have been raised in the discussion. I'd like to start with Dr. Joseph Romm, with the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions.
[Joseph Romm] [39:17] Thanks, I'd really like to thank the City of Austin and Austin Energy for their foresight and tireless work putting this coalition together, and I'd like to thank Jim for apparently having read my book on Hydrogen. [laughter]
People are always asking me what is the green car of the future. I did run the Department of Energy program responsible for all clean car research, development, demonstration and deployment, and I can safely say that the flexible-fuel, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is the most environmentally desirable and practical alternative fuel vehicle yet conceived. It sharply reduces urban air pollution and greenhouse gasses.
Plug-in hybrids running on electricity will reduce urban air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide 90% or more compared to the average new car running on gasoline. And even better, none of the pollutants are emitted from the tailpipe -- so they don't aggravate urban smog. Those of you who have heard me speak before know that I think that the issue of the century is global warming, and the good news is that plug-ins will also sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to existing cars. This is already true for the current U.S. electric grid, which is half-coal, and the cleaner the grid gets in the future, the better plug-ins will do.
I think it's worth noting that even running on pure coal-electricty, a plug-in hybrid electric today would have much lower emissions of greenhouse gasses than the average new car today running on gasoline, and about the same emissions as a regular hybrid. I think it's worth saying that if all the power plants built in the future are coal, then plug-ins would do nothing to address global warming. But then again, if all power plants built in the future are coal, then our climate is in big trouble.
And I think this is an important point -- there is no pure techno-fix to global warming. There's no automotive technology that will solve the problem without government policy. So if you want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, you need to cap those emissions -- that's what all the previous EPA administrators said earlier this month.
But once you have a cap on utility emissions, then you shift emissions from a difficult-to-regulate sector -- 250 million cars -- to an easy-to-regulate sector -- a few hundred large power plants. And at that point, plug-ins go from being a good idea to being the single best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars.
And I think one final point is worth making: we are using more and more unconventional oil. 'Unconventional' is almost a code-word for dirty... such as the Canadian tar sands -- as you saw the 60 Minutes special -- which increase the total greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline substantially.
People are even talking about turning coal into liquid fuel, which is a climate nightmare. Yet not only will electricity get cleaner over time, so will biofuels, as we shift from more corn ethanol to ethanol made from crop waste and dedicated energy crops.
And the good news is that even running a plug-in hybrid on 100% renewable electricity, the fueling cost per mile is still substantially lower than running a regular car on gasoline at current gasoline prices, let along what gasoline prices are going to be in the next ten to twenty years.
For all these reasons, just to repeat: the flexible-fuel plug-in electric hybrid is the most environmentally desirable and practical alternative-fuel vehicle yet conceived. That is why they are inevitable winners in the marketplace over the next several years, and that is why I am pleased to support this campaign.
[Roger Duncan] [43:09] I've received word that Senator Hatch is on his way. We would like to end our regularly scheduled speakers with a great honor -- to introduce to you Dr. Andy Frank. Dr. Frank is the professor at the University of California at Davis, and widely regarded as the inventor of plug-in hybrids. Dr Frank...
Duncan: [43:32] I've received word that Senator Hatch is on his way. We would like to end our regularly scheduled speakers with a great honor... to introduce to you Dr. Andy Frank. Dr. Frank is the professor at the University of California Davis, and widely regarded as the inventor of plug-in hybrids, Dr. Frank...
Dr. Andy Frank Well, I don't know if I'm the inventor but I've probably been working on it longer than anybody, anyone that's still alive.
I want to thank Austin Energy, I've been working on this a long, long time. I've been trying to promote it myself but one person just doesn't... It's like the guy tilting windmills. But Roger and the people in Texas have really brought this thing to the forefront to national attention and I'd really like to thank Roger and everybody for that.
And of course we've heard all about the global warming stuff. My job here is to answer any possible technical questions you may have. I've been working on this for a long long time. The car companies have always said that it can't be done, batteries are going to cost to much and so on and so forth.
We've done very careful analysis and studies and we show that's not true. Fundamentally these kinds of plug-in hybrids are equivalent to a sunroof and your navigation system, maybe your leather seats. So, it's doable now. It's not infrastructure that requires massive investment and the average consumer is not going to pay that much more for his car.
The most important, when he goes to the gas pump, he's only going a few times a year as the video pointed out, but more than that, when he's plugging in at home he's using energy at the equivalent of .70 cents a gallon. It's been a long long time since we've seen that kind of price for fuel.
So, plug-in hybrids have all the advantages of emissions, green house gases, low fuel costs, so why aren't we doing it? It's a matter of getting the car companies, and that's the main purpose here, getting the car companies, getting the public to demand these kinds of cars. We've shown over and over again these kinds of cars that the technology is available, we can do it. If me and a bunch of students can build cars, the car companies can certainly do it and do a much better job. So, I welcome everybody here and I'll be happy to answer any questions, technical or otherwise for you later.
[DUNCAN] I would like to interrupt these question and answer now. It's our great honor to introduce as our partner in this effort the United States Senator from Utah, the honorable Orrin Hatch.
[Orrin Hatch] 52:25 I'm very honored to be here with you today, And you can tell how important this is to me, because we just opened up the Alito markup, so I did my opening remarks and I scooted out of there and I've got to get right back.
But I want to thank Mayor Will Wynn of Austin, Austin Energy and of course the Plug-In Partners Coalition for holding this important event today, and for asking me to say a few words.
As you know I was the author of the CLEAR ACT which was included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed into law this summer and currently being implemented by the administration. The CLEAR ACT stands for Clean Efficient Automobiles Resulting from Advanced Car Technologies Act. It provides attractive tax credits to consumers who purchase alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles, including battery, electric and hybrid cars. This new law also provides tax incentives for new alternative fuel stations and for the use of alternative fuels in vehicles.
As with most tax incentives, the credits will sunset after a few years and they may not be available by the time a commercial plug-in hybrid is available to consumers. However, in the meantime CLEAR ACT credits will promote these advanced technologies necessary to make plug-in hybrids commercially viable as they are being used and perfected in our current hybrid cars on the road today.
Six years ago when I joined with environmental groups and auto makers to write the CLEAR ACT, we strongly believed that hybrids were an important answer to our nation's energy problems and to our nation's environmental problems, and we've been proven right. Today, I believe the next big step forward in our nation's energy strategy will be to develop commercially viable plug-in hybrids.
We have proven that battery/electric vehicles are technologically feasible and that hybrid electric vehicles are very marketable. Never forget when they decided to change the HOV 2 law to allow a single driver during busy traffic times, all the hybrid cars sold out almost overnight. And it shows that incentives, there are plenty of incentives for people to buy hybrids. And can you imagine how wonderful it would be to have plug-in hybrids.
By combining the popularity of hybrid electric vehicles with the added environmental and energy benefits of the battery-electric technology, we may very well be able to produce a silver bullet for our nation's transportation and environmental needs.
Let's not forget that two thirds of all of our oil is consumed in the transportation sector. To improve our nation's energy has to be one of our prime goals. But to improve our nation's energy security and air quality we have to focus on these type of solutions. So I add my voice to those you've already heard today. I believe it is in our nation's interest to promote the accelerated development of commercially available plug-in hybrids.
The world demand for energy is well above the world's supply and it's getting to be a higher demand every day. With the advent of China, India and other countries that are rapidly becoming very powerful.
I might add that new oil discoveries are dropping dramatically as well. While we have even more pressure. The world is headed for an energy crunch and we need the equivalent of the space race to find solutions if we hope to avoid a global disaster.
In terms of the transportation-energy supply problem I believe that no solution hold more short term promise than plug-in hybrids. In my view it should be the policy of this nation to become the world leader in the development of this important technology. And I pledge my support and I lend my support to this goal. I think you've got an idea of how important I consider this press conference to be, and how much I admire the city of Austin for leading out and making the case that we really have to do something about our energy and environmental problems in this country. And plug-in hybrids is one of the best short term solutions to those problems that I know of and I'm just grateful to have all these good people here today at this press conference. Thank you so much.
Thanks for transcription help to Greg Willey from Fair Oaks, CA and a second anonymous volunteer.