Senate Approves Diesel Emissions and Hagel Climate Change Amendments
Bodman: Era of Easily Accessible Oil is Ending

Oil Security Amendment with Support for Plug-In Hybrids Heading for Senate

Senators Bayh, Lieberman and Salazar are expected to introduce a new “Oil Security” floor amendment to the Senate Energy Bill on Thursday that will include support for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

As reported on the CalCars-News group, a centrist group of 14 senators (the same “Gang of 14” bi-partisan group that worked out the compromise defusing the so-called “nuclear option” over the filibuster), is working on an amendment focused on cutting use of petroleum through energy and vehicle efficiency.

A Senate source familiar with the Gang of 14 discussions said that incentives for manufacturers to produce plug-ins and other fuel efficient vehicles, including FFVs, would almost certainly be included in the amendment. In fact, the first policy recommendation in the Blueprint is to: “Provide incentives to auto manufacturers to produce and consumers to purchase, hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and FFVs across all vehicle models.”

The Oil Security amendment also includes other important provisions for advanced biofuel vehicles and truck stop electrification.

Assuming this comes to the floor, this could be the first substantive proposal for vehicle fuel efficiency that has emerged during the House and Senate wrangling over the energy bill.

It’s not clear whether or not the amendment will also specify increases in fleet fuel efficiency standards, or whether the program is voluntary. This calls to mind the distinction between the Hagel Climate Change Amendment and the McCain-Lieberman Climate Change Amendment (earlier post).

Hagel’s offers no cap on emissions, just a voluntary program in which tax-credit incentives grow the market. The McCain-Lieberman amendment, by contrast, sets a clear cap, and sets up a system of emissions credit trading to provide a market incentive for new and cleaner technologies.

As noted earlier, McCain is a believer in the cap.

“You’ve got to have an immediate effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” McCain said, adding that any climate change plan that doesn’t do that is “a fig leaf” and “a joke.” (Reuters)

One could say the same about fuel efficiency.

The members of the Gang of 14 are: Ken Salazar (D-CO); Robert Byrd (D-WV); Joe Lieberman (D-CT);  Daniel Inouye (D-HI); Mary Landrieu (D-LA); Mark Pryor (D-AR); Ben Nelson (D-NE); John McCain (R-AZ); Olympia Snowe (R-ME); Susan Collins (R-ME); John Warner (R-VA); Lindsey Graham (R-SC); and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI).

To garner support for the amendment, CalCars founder Felix Kramer has put together an email for wide distribution that includes contact information and sample language for messages to the most critical senators.

Support is developing from both sides of the aisle, so this key amendment stands a good shot at adoption on the Senate floor.  But we have to get out votes from more Democrats and Republicans. In the process we will be educating even reluctant Senators that Americans in both parties are serious and “get it” about the need to advance clean car technologies to help our Country become more energy independent, faster to improve our national security and economy/jobs.

—Felix Kramer




After all this time... maybe things will happen.

Not a minute too soon, either.

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