Hatch Reintroduces CLEAR ACT to Promote Alt-Fuel, Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
29 April 2005
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), supported by a coalition of environmental groups, automakers, and alternative fuel associations, re-introduced to Congress for the third time the CLEAR ACT—Clean Efficient Automobiles Resulting from Advanced Car Technologies.
Is it any wonder [absent the “pathetic” lack of an energy policy] that we have dramatically increased our reliance on foreign oil, and that prices have risen to reflect this trend? What is truly disturbing to me is that the global energy supply is also being outpaced by global demand for oil.
In other words, our energy future looks bleak. If our nation is forced to rely on oil imports to meet our future energy needs, we are headed for stormy weather. Currently our transportation sector in the U.S. accounts for nearly two-thirds of all oil consumption nationwide.
The CLEAR ACT is designed to lower the cost barriers to implementing alternative fuels and advanced technologies through the use of tax incentives, most of which go directly to the consumer.
A base credit of up to $1,000 on hybrid-electric vehicles for the amount of electric drive power along with an additional credit of up to $3,000 depending upon fuel economy performance. These credits are available for 6 years.
A base credit of $4,000 and an incremental credit of $2,000 for battery-electric vehicles with extended range or payload capabilities.
A base credit of up to $2,500 for dedicated alternative-fuel vehicles (CNG, LPG, LNG) with an additional $1,500 credit for vehicles certified to Super Ultra Low Emission (SULEV) standards. Flex-fuel vehicles are not eligible since they can operate on either gasoline or E85 (ethanol) and are available in the market without any incremental cost.
A $4,000 base credit for fuel cell vehicles along with an additional credit of up to $4,000 depending on fuel economy performance. These credits are available for ten years.
Credits for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles based on individual weight categories and amounts varying with the largest vehicles over 26,000 pounds receiving up to $40,000 for fuel cell or battery electric, $32,000 for alternative fuel, or $24,000 for hybrid applications.
A credit of $0.50 cents for every gallon of gas equivalent of alternative fuel (such as natural gas, LNG, LPG, hydrogen, B100 and methanol) is provided to the retail distributor. This credit is available for 6 years. (Presumably it is up to the distributor to decide whether or not to reflect the credit in its end-user pricing.)
An extension of an existing $100,000 tax deduction for 10 years and a credit for actual costs of up to $30,000 for the installation of alternative fuel sites available to the public.
All of the technologies promoted in the CLEAR ACT—whether they be battery and electric motor technologies or advances in fuel storage and alternative fuel infrastructure—lead us closer to the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. I believe fuel cells are in our future. However, even if the widespread use of fuel cell vehicles never becomes a reality, advances in these other technologies provide a dramatic social benefit on their own.
I have heard one or two people question the need for incentives for hybrid vehicles when people are lining up to buy them. It may be true that demand for these vehicles is high in a few areas. However, these high-demand areas tend to have local or state incentives in place for the purchase of these vehicles. Where incentives are not in place, hybrid sales are minimal. This demonstrates that incentives can indeed provide a market breakthrough to consumer acceptance of alternative vehicles.
With the CLEAR ACT, we are trying to provide that breakthrough on a national scale. And the numbers show that a breakthrough is desperately needed. It may be true that hybrid sales have doubled in the last couple of years, but they still represent a minuscule 0.48 percent of cars that were sold in 2004. If we are serious about promoting hybrid vehicles in this country, we will have to aim much, much higher than that.
|Initial Coalition of Supporters for the CLEAR ACT 2005|
|Union of Concerned Scientists
|Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition|
Propane Vehicle Council
American Methanol Institute
Electric Drive Transportation Assn
A laudable effort which I hope makes it through congress. Better would be to avoid specifying technologies. Califorina's ZEV mandate has shown this is easily gamed by industry. A better credit scheme would be based on a vehicle's efficiency and emissions improvements over other vehicles of similar capacity. Using capacity, measured as passenger/cargo volume/weight avoids distortions from use of gross weight classes. While gross weight often corresponds to capacity, gross weight classes *discourage* reduction of gross weight to improve efficiency, eliminating an incentive on one of the cheapest means to improve efficiency.
Posted by: Ron Fischer | 29 April 2005 at 12:30 PM
Excellent point, Ron. I like to express this same sentiment by saying we should legislate strategy, in as general a way as possible, and let the market determine the tactics to fulfill that strategy.
Posted by: loudGizmo | 29 April 2005 at 12:43 PM
Just tax the dirty fuels, and those who hog the dirty fuels, and let alternatives compete to fill the gap.
It just confuses the equation too much to put subsidies on the production side ... research yes, production no.
Posted by: odograph | 29 April 2005 at 02:39 PM
The Clear Act seems fair in promoting all forms of energy and fuels, but I object to the claim that the hydrogen fuel cell car is superior to the hybrid. Senator Hatch should be more fully informed about fuel cell limitations and hybrid potential. The hybrid engine can run on Hydrogen and all other fuels, perfecting combustion efficiency, and run on battery packs rechargable off another variety of energy sources!
We should also question certain varieties of hybrids which don't deserve the moniker. The 'contractor truck' models which use an electric motor 'assist', but have no potential to drive entirely on electric motor, improve mileage only minimally. I'm not certain, but doesn't the Honda use an electric motor 'assist' system which prevents them from running entirely on batteries?
Beyond alternative fuels, we face the reality of too fricking many cars and trucks, requiring too many roads and freeways and parking lots. And we must consider all the other economic, environmental and cultural impacts that our gargantuan amount of travel costs impose! The vehicular technology that best addresses this problem is also the hybrid - surprise! The rooftop solar photovoltiac home-based power supports local economies. Hydrogen cannot be generated and stored at home. Will a corporate hegemony that controls hydrogen support local economies? Or will Corporate Imperialists only support the global economy? Not a difficult question to answer!
The hydrogen economy is a frickin' hoax!
Posted by: Art | 01 May 2005 at 02:09 PM
I feel the Clear Act is a start to getting the public in the "bridge vehicles", Hybrids. Fuel Cell vehicles are the answer to our future transportation needs. We are in this situaion not because the Middle East countries will not produce the oil we need, at a price we want to pay. We are in this because the American Auto Manufactures do not, and will not respond to anything but the $. As long as there is someone willing to pay for the big V-8's with 300+ horsepower, they will produce them.
We come up with tax credits for Hybrids and electric vehicles, why not take a bold move and require a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) of 40+ miles per gallon? Why not require that every gallon of diesel contain 10% Biodiesel, and every gallon of gasoline contain 10% Ethanol? The answer to this question, I feel, is there are lobby groups, and those groups donate funds to campaigns, favors are owed, and toes will not be stepped on.
Until the Congress, Senate, and Executive Offices make the decission that our countries transportation needs outweigh the campaign contributions, we will continue to see Energy Bills with no teeth.
This country is in serious energy trouble, it will take serious laws to get us through.
The Federal Laws that dictate allowable fuels should not be superseeded by any state (California Air Resources Board, (CARB)), not wanting to allow B-20 to be used to meet their new particulates standard, there is more to this and why B-20 is not allowed but the real question is why would a state not allow a fuel that for every gallon used reduces by 20% the need for foreign oil, and puts us a little closer the the energy security we seek?
Thank you, Senator Hatch.
Posted by: Tom Smallwood | 02 May 2005 at 06:22 AM
A proper hybrid (plug in type -- not the current Honda or Toyota wimpy hybrids that use motor assist technology only) can exceed 500 miles per gallon for the average vehicle user. Add to this a plug in hybrid using the new nano battery from Toshiba that recharges in less than 10 minutes and the plug in hybrid is as no brainer technology to get us to the hydrogen economy (Note: If most vehicles were plug in hybrids using current battery technology then the grid would be overloded a night recharging vehicles for 6 to 8 hours -- but -- with the new Toshiba nano battery the grid at night will barely notice the vehicles that are plugged in and sucking power for only around ten minutes or so).
I give the Orrin Hatch types of the world all the credit they deserve for taking the lead on this type of legislation -- I only hope that for once that the legislation will keep up with technology and either push or pull the correct concepts into reality -- By the way -- it takes a galon of oil to make a gallon of ethnol -- ethnol is not the right answer.
Posted by: JJ | 02 May 2005 at 11:44 AM
I protest JJ's description of the Toyota hybrid as "wimpy" and using "motor assist". The Toyota hybrid is electric-only up to about 30 mph, because of superior torque on electric motors between 0 and 30 mph. Above 30 mph, the drive is "engine assist", when it uses the gas engine to help provide more power. Plug-in kits for Prius are being sold by 3rd party companies (which will void your Toyota warranty, unfortunately). A plug-in Prius gets about 60 miles "free", when it only needs to run in electric mode. (In rush-hour stop-and-go traffic, this sounds perfect).
Posted by: Greg | 01 July 2005 at 10:46 AM
O.Hatch-ed is too much Hocus Pocus,keep it simple stupid!!
Posted by: HHN | 13 July 2005 at 03:30 PM
I propose --
Posted by: biagra | 21 July 2007 at 08:48 AM
It's good to hear BP & GM talk about alternative fuels, but 50 years to implement is too long.
Perhaps this link will spark more attention:
It is GM's electric concept car the Chevy Volt. If more people begin to demand alternative fuel cars, we should be able to speed the rate at which the technology is developed.
We have started an Investor Forum where Investors can meet and discuss topics like this:
Posted by: TheSUBWAY.com | 17 April 2008 at 07:58 AM
I have a patented fuel system that will enhance the spectrum of fuels far greater than any past or present technology. All the development work has been completed. I want to sell rights to patent at this time.
Posted by: M. Pinsker | 30 April 2008 at 06:52 AM