The leadership of the US House of Representatives yesterday staged a press event to broadly discuss the package of energy legislation that is on its way for consideration in the full House floor in July, after appropriations measures are finished.
The package does not contain vehicle fuel-efficiency standards. During the event, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) noted that the question over altering fuel economy rules (CAFE) will re-emerge in the climate change/global warming legislation that his committee will tackle beginning in September. However, one of the elements of the legislation currently heading to the floor is a bill to promote plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and components.
The component of the package for plug-ins and electric transportation:
Establishes a loan guarantee program for the construction of advanced battery manufacturing facilities.
Amends the language in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that provides manufacturing conversion grants for hybrid-electric vehicles to include plug-in hybrids and components.
Establishes a program to provide grants on a cost-shared basis to State governments, local governments, metropolitan transportation authorities, air pollution control districts, private or nonprofit entities or combinations thereof, to carry out projects to encourage the use of plug-in electric drive vehicles or other emerging electric vehicle technologies.
Provides incentives for federal and state fleets for medium- and heavy-duty hybrids.
Amends the Energy Policy Act of 1992 to include a number of forms of electric drive vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, for the allocation of credits.
During the committee markup sessions, a number of amendments were added, including:
Establishing a 5,000-vehicle PHEV conversion pilot program that would involve 5 cities with 1,000 conversions per city.
Establishing a revolving loan program for qualified electric transportation projects, which includes ship-side or shore-side electrification; truck-stop electrification; electric truck refrigeration units; battery powered APUs for trucks; electric airport ground support equipment; electric or dual-mode electric freight rail; any distribution upgrades required to supply electricity to the projects; and any ancillary infrastructure.
Authorizing grants to owners of electric drive transportation technology to use off-peak electricity or to have the load managed by the utility.
Establishing a market assessment program for electric-drive transportation technologies.
Establishing a program to determine how to integrate PHEVs into the transmission grid, to develop systems and processes to allow plug-ins to function as emergency back-up power sources for consumers.
Ordering a study from the DOT, DOE and other agencies on the benefits of and barriers to the widespread use of city electric cars (higher speed than neighborhood electric vehicles, lower speed than passenger vehicles) and which may be battery electric, fuel-cell electric or plug-in hybrids.
Specifically including hydraulic hybrids in the vehicle mix.
CAFE. The original CAFE proposal under consideration in the House Energy and Commerce Committee would have mandated an increase in fuel economy to 36 mpg US by model year 2021 for passenger cars and 30 mpg US after model year 2024 for light-duty trucks. It also would have blocked states from establishing standards for the reduction of greenhouse gases from automobiles. (Earlier post.)
Facing stiff opposition, including that of the Speaker of the House, that proposal did not make it through this markup session. During markup deliberations yesterday, however, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) submitted an amendment that would have instituted fuel economy standards of 35 mpg for cars and 27.5 mpg for trucks, both by 2022, for vehicles that run on blends of renewable fuel and gasoline and diesel—in effect, every new vehicle.
The amendment was shot down in a straight partyline vote, and the package thus head to the House for consideration without a CAFE provision.
Asked specifically about the prospects for CAFE during the leadership press event, Speaker Pelosi—who also said that she supported the Senate’s CAFE standard of 35 mpg for both cars and trucks by 2020—said:
Let meet be very specific. Mr. Dingell [chairman of the Energy and Commerce committee] and I are in conversation, as with Mr. Boucher, the chairman of the subcommittee [on Energy and Air Quality], about how we proceed on some of the other issues. The committee, the subcommittee, the full committee, will work its will and so will the Congress, and it will do so in the fullest and most open way.