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US Senator Outlines Aggressive Package Mandating Alt Fuels and Plug-in Hybrids

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.




Looks like campaigning for the 2006 senate race is well underway.

Lieberman is somewhat distanced from his Democrat base at the moment, so this will no doubt help him curry favor.

But its obviously unrealisitc. The senate couldn't agree to a 1 Mboe/day reduction by 2015, but now they'll agree and Bush is going to sign a 5 Mboe/day equivalent reduction. Riiight.


Not a big fan of Lieberman, but more power to him. This is gotta be a better program that pictures of energy hogs on web sites.

Reducing the consumption of oil touches so many hot buttons in American politics if packaged right. We need more than Lieberman, of course. Where are the other Democrats, plus a few Republicans like McCain?

The key question for the future may be, "Who lost America?", not "Who lost Iraq?"

Harvey D

It feels so good to hear a pro-active common sense approach from Senator Lieberman. Let's hope that the majority of us will write our Senators to request similar action to activate support for changes required to reduce OIL consumption. A program to increase or multiply CLEAN electrical power production will be required with the introduction of plug-in hybrids or PHEV. Wind and Solar energies offer very good possibilites in North America. Let's do it.


Something on this scale has to be done. Sadly it is the opposition, not the President, who is pushing these radical reforms.

And when speaking of clean electricity, don't forget nuclear power.


Sounds like to much government red tape. Everyone keep buying hyrbids and the market will respond to demand. If foreign dependence is your worry raise a terrif and look at your tax treaties. Many better ideas than mandating 10% hybrids. How will he enforce this? The automakers will find all the loopholes. Any car right now can be concidered a hybrid depending on definitions. These mandates are well intentioned but silly.


Lieberman's plan is a no-go. But, that doesn't mean there's no value in presenting it.

The more often politicians make noise about using [i]conservation[/i] as a way to reduce oil consumption, and particularly with extreme measures, the more likely a compramise bill will make it through the House*, improving things. Keep moving the debate toward reduced consumption of fuel, and the better the chance that some bill that reduces some consumption of fuel takes place.

So, hats off to Lieberman for making some fuel-saving noise.

On a side note, it seems to me that you could get a bill passed if it included
* ethanol handouts, thereby gaining the farm states
* F-T process, thereby gaining Montana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio
* Wind farm handouts, thereby gaining the Dakotas, Minnesota, Texas, California
* Solar handouts, thereby gaining Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada
* biodiesel, thereby picking up soy states including some in the southeast and the plains
* Increased CAFE standards, which will get you New England (minus NH), NY, NJ, DE, MD

Who'd be against it? Alaska?

Yeah, it'd be expensive. And, it'd likely be wasteful. But, spreading the money and the alternative fuels/conservation methods around will help to get everybody on board, keep people engaged, and hedge against whatever the next big discovery in green-e is.

* If a fuel-saving bill makes it through the House, it'll almost certainly make it through the Senate


King George's latest speechifying included, (paraphrased), "Someday, we'll get energy systems on our roofs. Ain't there yet. Workin on it".

When hydrogen fuel cell cars were first touted in his highness's FreeDUMB Car Program, one plus was their 'supposed' ability to provide a homepower system. You don't hear about that any longer, probably because it is too impractical to generate and store hydrogen at a household level. But, the Plug-in Hybrid offers that potential. Rooftop solar photovoltiac panels and rechargeable batteries have long proved practical. Why, King George he gots one down at his Crawfurd hideaway. Me thinks homepower is too close to public power for the utility industry's liking.


Michael's complaint about red tape fails to recognize that a lot of this problem was created by government red tape and other meddlnig:

  • Federal research, ZEV mandates from CARB's 1990 initiative onward, and everything until this year failed to create any incentives or allow any credits for plug-in hybrids.
  • Utility regulations made it impossible for small generators (such as household cogenerators) to participate in the market for power as sellers.
  • Government subsidies for fuels of all kinds cut the cost advantages of efficiency, cogeneration, etc.

IIRC, PURPA was repealed as part of this latest energy bill.  That may wind up having a greater effect than anything else in it.

Cameron Dell

I always wondered why trucks have rear ends with hypo-gears and not tans axles. Allot of buses have trans axles in them. By reversing this configuration and using it in a semi a 25% fuel saving and power increase could be achieved.

Cameron Dell


Just what we need... the Government Forcing private comanies to build what the government wants. lame. If people wanted hybrids (or if they were cost effective) they would sell better.

The government's place is not to force private auto companies to sell what the government wants them to sell.

Is that what you want? the government telling you what kind of car you can and can not buy? to the extent that they do now is even obserd.

"I always wondered why trucks have rear ends with hypo-gears and not tans axles."

They don't do that because the gears burn out.


You can't put a transaxle in a semi because you are driving two axles and the engine needs to be well forward to avoid interfering with the attachment for the trailer.

Hybrids would have come along a lot sooner if the US government hadn't taken the costs of e.g. defending Middle East oil and charged them to income taxes instead of fuel taxes.  Another buck a gallon from the 70's would have prevented the whole SUV phenomenon and we'd probably have lots of electric cars.


It's time to Set America Free all right!

Harvey D

Engineer-Poet is right. Cheap gas certainly brought a very large number of inefficient heavy SUVs and large pick ups gas guzzlers on the North American roads. Fortunately, this can be rectified quickly enough with $5+ a gallon gas. What an easy cure, just add a new progressive $2/gallon federal gas tax and those monsters will progressively disappear and be replaced by efficient hyprids and plug-in hybrids. Money talks louder than conservation laws that can be challenged and bypassed. Of course, revenues from this new tax will have to be reinvested in local inovative industries and to induce users to buy hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicules.

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