In a speech at Georgetown University on Friday, US Senator Joe Lieberman described a package of legislative proposals that he will soon introduce to the Senate that offers two goals and two mandates.
The goals are that the US reduce oil consumption by 5 million barrels per day within 10 years, and by 10 million barrels a day within 20.
The mandates are that within three years, 10% of new cars sold in the US be hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or alternative fuel (especially biofuel) vehicles, and that within 7 years, 50% of new cars sold in the US be made of those combinations.
What we are seeing is more than just a temporary drain on our budgets—a passing inconvenience and temporary increase in costs. I fear that we are literally watching the slow but steady erosion of America’s power and independence as a nation—our economic and military power and our political independence. We’re burning it up in our engines and spewing it from our tailpipes because of our absolute dependence on oil to fuel our cars and trucks.
That dependence on oil—and that means foreign oil because our own reserves are less than 1 percent of the world’s oil reserves—puts us in jeopardy in three key ways—a convergence forming a perfect storm that is extremely dangerous to America’s national security and economy.
There is only one way to do this. We need to transform our total transportation infrastructure from the refinery to the tailpipe and each step in between because transportation is the key to energy independence. Barely 2 percent of our electricity comes from oil.
While the Senator gives a nod to the potential of hydrogen fuel cells, and supports continued research and development, his focus is more immediate.
The focus of the bill, however, is hybrid electric technology and alternative fuels, simply because these technologies can make a decisive impact faster.
Key elements of the proposed bill are:
Within three years of passage, 10% of all new vehicles sold in the US must be alternative fuel, flexible fuel or hybrids (including plug-ins), increasing to a 50% mandate within seven years of passage.
A program to ensure an adequate number of alternative fuel retail outlets.
Fuel-efficiency standards for trucks.
Standards to ensure fuel-efficient replacement tires are offered for cars and trucks.
Financial support for retooling manufacturing facilities for advanced technology and alternative fuel cars and trucks.
Lieberman adduced Brazil as an example of “a case study of government leadership to combine technology mandates and subsidies to wean its transportation sector from foreign oil to a domestic alternative.”
He concluded his speech with a call to involvement and action.
I am here to tell you that on Capitol Hill today, there is a rising bipartisan desire to do just that [reduce the dependence on oil]. But I also want to tell you that it will not happen without the support of you the people.
The defenders of the status quo—at home and abroad—think you don’t know, don’t understand or don’t care. They think you will keep paying them higher and higher and higher prices for gasoline and oil.
It is time to rise up and pull together and prove them wrong. It is time to get mad and begin to fight back. It is time to call your member of Congress, your Senator and your President and tell them you want change.
It is time to set America free.