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25 Senators Introduce DRIVE Act; House Version Follows: Successor to 2005-06 Bi-Partisan/Bi-Cameral Bill
Jan 19, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
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The DRIVE Act (Dependence Reduction Through Innovation in Vehicles and Energy) is the updated version for the 110th Congress of the bi-partisan, bi-cameral legislative effort formerly called the Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act. (Now we'll all be able to remember the bill name!)

It's just been introduced in the Senate as S.339 by 25 Senators, led by Bayh, Brownback, Coleman and Lieberman, and will be introduced in the House next week with at least 55 co-sponsors. This is a bill designed from the start with a "let's agree on basics and move ahead" approach that will enable it to PASS both houses and get signed into law!

The DRIVE Act is the work of the coalition famously described by Jim Woolsey as "tree huggers, do-gooders, sod busters, cheap hawks and evangelicals" that has propelled PHEVs to the forefront of energy/transportation policies. The new version, again coordinated by Set America Free http://www.setamericafree.org, and reflecting contributions by many PHEV advocates, has even stronger provisions to encourage the commercialization of plug-in hybrids.

Initial Senate Sponsors and Co-Sponsors are: Akaka, Bayh, Bingaman, Brownback, Cantwell, Clinton, Coleman, Collins, Durbin, Feinstein, Graham, Kennedy, Kerry, Kohl, Leahy, Lieberman, Lincoln, Lugar, Menendez, Nelson (Florida), Obama, Salazar, Schumer, Sessions, Tester Below is a press release and summary; we'll have more next week, including a complete list of House co-sponsors, so you can make sure your state's elected officials are on the bill.

Bipartisan Coalition Introduces Bill Aimed at Reducing America's Dependence on Foreign Oil

Washington, D.C. Jan. 18, 2007 - U.S. Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), joined by Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Ken Salazar (D-CO), and others today introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at breaking America's dependence on foreign oil. Through a variety of steps including increased production of ethanol and tax incentives to encourage the production of fuel efficient vehicles, the DRIVE Act would reduce U.S. oil use by seven million barrels per day in 20 years - more than twice what we import from the Middle East today.

"Meeting our future energy needs is one of the great challenges of this generation, and one that will impact everything from our national security to our economy," Senator Bayh said. "Voters made it clear this fall that they want real progress on these issues, not more partisan fighting. With cosponsors from the right, left, and across the country, my energy plan offers a realistic solution to reducing our dependence on foreign oil."

The DRIVE Act is the re-introduced version of the Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act from the 109th Congress, which attracted 28 Senate co-sponsors last year. The bipartisan legislation was supported by Senators from across the ideological and geographical spectrum, and the re-introduced bill is expected to build on that support. Twenty-two senators have already signed up to co-sponsor the DRIVE Act upon its re-introduction today.

"Foreign oil dependence undermines America's national and economic security," said Coleman. "The DRIVE Act will require a government-wide, coordinated plan to save 2.5 million barrels of oil a day by 2016 - the amount we currently import from the Middle East. This isn't just another goal, but a real plan, a blueprint to gain oil independence from nations that do not share our love of liberty. America is blessed with an abundance of innovative minds supplying a deep reservoir of energy answers to our problem of foreign oil dependence. The bill offers an aggressive strategy and real-world solutions -- utilizing many of the resources I have back in my home state of Minnesota, such as renewable fuels. Now is the time to start on the path toward energy independence, and I am proud to take action with a strong, bipartisan group of Senators to secure our nation's future."

"In no other piece of legislation do you see such a large and ideologically diverse group of Senators signed up for such a dramatic reduction in US oil dependence," said Lieberman. "We have attracted Republicans and Democrats - including many from the key Senate Committees - to a suite of forceful measures that will set America free from its oil addiction. I am committed to seeing these strong, common-sense measures passed into law."

"The DRIVE Act would help the US save 2.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2016 and 10 million barrels per day by 2031," said Senator Salazar. "Our bipartisan bill includes simple, sensible strategies for getting more plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road and for getting more biofuels to the market. Since first introducing this bill in the Senate last year, we have enjoyed broad bipartisan support and it is time Congress approves it."

Among the steps outlined in the bill are proposals that would:

  • Increase availability of home-grown, renewable fuels like ethanol, so that every American who wants to use alternative energy is able to do so;
  • Provide tax credits for manufacturers who to retool their factories to build hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and flex fuel vehicles;
  • Requires federal and state vehicle fleets to cut oil use by 30 percent by 2016 and ensure that 23 percent of their fleets are advanced diesels, hybrids or plug-in hybrids to ensure that government sets an example and spurs the market for energy innovation;
  • Encourages the development and mass marketing of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and
  • Lifts the per manufacturer cap on consumer tax credits for the purchase of hybrids and advanced diesels so more consumers receive tax incentives to purchase hybrids.

SUMMARY OF THE DEPENDENCE REDUCTION THROUGH
INNOVATION IN VEHICLES AND ENERGY ACT

Action Plan: The DRIVE Act aims to reduce American use of oil by 7 million barrels a day by 2026. It achieves this goal through a variety of initiatives, including those outlined below.

New Vehicle Technology Requirement: Sets a target for manufacturers that 50% of their new vehicles be flexible fuel vehicles (FFV), alternative fueled vehicles, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, fuel cell vehicles in 2012. After 2016 at least 10 percent of the 50 percent requirement must be met by hybrids, advanced diesels, plug-in hybrids and other non-FFV vehicles.

Leading by Example: Requires federal and state vehicle fleets to cut oil use by 30 percent by 2016. In 2016, the legislation also requires that 23 percent of the fleets be advanced diesels, hybrids or plug-in hybrids to further contribute to oil reduction. It also requires that government-owned flexible-fuel vehicles run on alternative fuels and that all new fleet vehicles be as fuel efficient as possible.

Fuel Efficient Vehicles for the 21st Century

  • Provides tax credits for manufacturers and suppliers to retool their factories to produce advanced vehicles including diesels, hybrids and plug-in hybrids.
  • Creates a tire efficiency program for tires used on light duty vehicles.
  • Creates a fuel economy testing program and the implementation of efficiency standards for heavy duty vehicles (trucks, buses, etc).
  • Lifts the per manufacturer cap on consumer tax credits for the purchase of hybrids and advanced diesels so more consumers receive tax incentives to purchase hybrids.
  • Provides a tax credit for consumers to purchase plug-in electric hybrid vehicles.
  • Provides a tax credit for large private fleets for purchasing more efficient vehicles for their fleets.
  • Creates an R&D and deployment program for electric drive transportation and light-weight materials, to reduce a car's weight without sacrificing safety.
  • Encourages local educational agencies to develop a policy to reduce the incidence of school bus idling.
  • Fuel Choices for the 21st Century

  • Increases the ethanol infrastructure tax credit to 50 percent to encourage the construction of more E-85 pumps at gas stations.
  • Extends the biodiesel income and excise tax credits and extends the small ethanol producer credit to include cellulosic and sucrose ethanol
  • Uses CAFE penalties to fund DOE ethanol infrastructure grants program.
  • Sets a national goal that 10% of all gas stations have alternative fuel pumps by 2010 and establishes a program to create alternative refueling corridors throughout the country.
  • Changes the authorization for production incentives for cellulosic ethanol to $200 million for five years.
  • Sets an additional near-term benchmark for the use of cellulosic ethanol as part of the renewable fuels standard included in the 2005 Energy Policy Act.
  • Creates a grant program to encourage new mass transit facilities and to build commercial developments around them.
  • National Media Campaign: Authorizes a national media campaign for the purpose of decreasing oil consumption in the United States.

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