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New Open Fuel Standard Act would set minimum requirement for non-petroleum fuel capability in new automobiles

27 June 2013

Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL-27) introduced the Open Fuel Standard Act (H.R. 2493) which would require 30% of new automobiles in 2016, 50% in 2017, and 50% in each subsequent year, to operate on non-petroleum fuels in addition to or instead of petroleum based fuels. The bill also features original co-sponsors Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY-03), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13), Tom Cole (R-OK-04), Collin Peterson (D-MN-07) and Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam).

The 50% level is a significant reduction from prior legislation introduced that would have required 95% of new automobiles eventually be able to operate on non-petroleum fuels. The auto industry had criticized the 95% requirement as unattainable, noted the Methanol Institute, which came out strongly in support of the new bill.

The bill allows the full array of existing technologies—including flex fuel, natural gas, hydrogen, ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, plug-in electric drive, and fuel cell—as well as a catch-all for new technologies.

This requirement, said the sponsors, would provide certainty to investors encouraging the production of alternative fuels and fueling stations and to have a variety of pumps supplying those alternative fuels.

Rep. Engel has added the Open Fuel Standard as an amendment to 10 appropriations bills over the last three years to conform with President Obama’s 2011 Memorandum on Federal Fleet Performance, to require all new light duty vehicles in the federal fleet to be alternate fuel vehicles, such as hybrid, electric, natural gas, or biofuel, by 31 December 2015. Rep. Engel has introduced the Open Fuel Standard as the lead sponsor, or co-lead sponsor, in the last three sessions of Congress.

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