New Senate Bill Targets Gasoline Use Reduction of 45% by 2030; $2.3B for Batteries
18 April 2007
US Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Pete Domenici (R-NM) introduced legislation to reduce the use of fossil fuels by improving efficiency in vehicles, buildings, home appliances and industrial equipment. Bingaman and Domenici are chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The bill—the Energy Efficiency Promotion Act (S.1115)—sets the goal of reducing gasoline usage by 20% by 2017; by 35% by 2025; and by 45% by 2030. It also requires federal and state fleets of civilian vehicles to reduce petroleum consumption by 30% by 2016.
Other transportation-related provisions of the bill include:
Authorization of $500 million over 10 years for basic research for batteries, and $800 million to transition the basic research to first-of-a-kind batteries the automobile and electric utility industries can use to improve energy storage. Authorization of $1 billion over ten years for four centers to work with the industries to develop advanced manufacturing technologies for batteries to be globally competitive.
Authorization of $60 million for the Department of Energy to research and develop light-weight materials such as advanced carbon composites and light-weight steel alloys for the construction of vehicles.
Amendment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to authorize the Secretary of Energy to issue loan guarantees for facilities for the manufacture of parts for fuel-efficient vehicles.
Authorization of federal awards to manufacturers and suppliers for 30% of qualified investment for incremental costs incurred to re-equip, expand or establish a manufacturing facility to produce advanced technology vehicles.
The bill will be the subject of a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Monday.
I love when politicians do that, say they want to reduce polution, or gas consumption, or anything, but give no ideas on how it's going to be done. They might as well say "i want a 100% reduction in 10 years." they need to actually speak to engineers, and car companies, and tell them how it's going to be done(not ask).
Posted by: Brad | 18 April 2007 at 09:09 AM
Now we're talking! Could they actually be waking up in Washington? I just hope the money doesn't wind up in the hands of USABC. (i.e. funneled off into oblivion). I like the emphasis on manufacturing since that is the key problem with advanced batteries today (price). Now, what are the odds of this getting past?
Posted by: Neil | 18 April 2007 at 09:21 AM
Brad, politicians should not play technological favorites that are themselves special interests. When Kennedy set a goal to land on the moon by 1970 he did not stipulate how it would happen. That he left up to the engineers. Policymakers need to be as loose as possible as to HOW the goals are met so the market can work out the best way to accomplish this.
Posted by: Cervus | 18 April 2007 at 09:23 AM
I know I am repeating myself, but run hybrids on CNG/SNG and you can reduce gasoline consumption immediately, using proven technologies. Advancing other methods is good if they have merit up and above this. We need to get something done NOW...not 10 years from now.
Posted by: SJC | 18 April 2007 at 09:45 AM
Yeah, let's have Congress actually do the design work and just tell the engineers how to do it. We could have the car originally designed by a special House subcommittee. By the time that version is reconciled with the Senate version we'd lucky if it didn't have 7 wheels of varying material and pushed by horse... of course eating lots of midwestern corn as the fuel source. It would also undoubtedly have a very large hauling capacity so it could drop by every congressional district unloading bags of money.
Posted by: rhapsodyinglue | 18 April 2007 at 09:55 AM
Again, the problem is being defined as one of technology. If we can just have better batteries, cars, fibers,biofuels, etc., we can meet our goals, especially those which are a long ways away. We have had tremendous technological change over the last three decases with no improvement with respect to gasoline burned or gas mileage. Auto companies and consumers keep moving the goal posts-- increasingly absurd levels of performance, bigger trucks, bigger SUVs. This is a treadmill. No amount of money will get us out of this mess.
The main problem is not engineering; it is economics, politics, and cultural attitudes.
This is all directed at the supply side; we need incentives on the demand side. Changes in driving behavior and demand could start bringing down gas consumption tomorrow. But no politician will do the obvious; raise gas taxes until enough changes in driving and purchasing behavior to occur to bring down consumption.
Posted by: tom | 18 April 2007 at 10:19 AM
This is a significant move in the right direction, I think the timescale is too long for the investment size.
Numbers of interest
1. This is about 2/3rds of 1 quarters profit for Chevron
2. This is about 0.4% of the defense budget for 1 year
To figure out the priorities, always follow the money!
As always, it is a single simple sound-bite friendly action rather than a more holistic solution to the problem
Personal Transportation Policy for the US
Posted by: Kevin | 18 April 2007 at 10:20 AM
awwhh yeah baby, watch Cobasys sales take off.
Posted by: Richard | 18 April 2007 at 10:53 AM
It is good progress no matter the caveats. Getting politicians on both sides of the aisle to tilt against petroleum is an achievement of significant worth. As to solutions, the legislation calls for:
"Federal and state fleets of civilian vehicles to reduce petroleum consumption by 30% by 2016."
So, that means starting in product year 2009, hundreds of thousands of fleet vehicle purchases could be PHEV. The US Postal service has 289,000 vehicles in it alone. Extrapolating across State owned fleets there are a million vehicles needing retrofit/upgrades or replacement over nine years. Anyone think there's not enough incentive for automakers here? The Phoenix EV is eligable right now.
Posted by: gr | 18 April 2007 at 11:03 AM
Is the idea to reduce gasoline from fossil fuel by 20%, or all road vehicle fuel by 20%?
Clearly the road immediately ahead uses lithium ion batteries for short trips (40 miles or less) and renewable fuel (bio-diesel or ethanol or next generation biofuel)for longer trips. Does this legislation pave the way, or does it put pot-holes in the path?
While one year goals are lame, so are 15 or 20 year goals, what we need are 3 year goals, and 7 year goals.
The money to encourage investment in production facilities is a move in the right direction, but without blowing off the NIMBY blockers, the facilities will be located outside the USA. Wait and see.
And funding for this could come from a surcharge above market price for high consumption of fuel. But nothing will be done at least until the next major disruption in supply. Wait and see.
Posted by: Van | 18 April 2007 at 11:43 AM
The political cultural side may be tougher to handle than the engineering. People like their lifestyles. When you tell them to buy and drive a more practical car, you are going against what they perceive as their freedoms. Even if a major situation caused them to have to drive smaller cars, they would want larger ones (in the U.S) This is why politicians stay away from the "hair shirt" ideas of less is more.
I recommend that we look for ways to give people what they want and society what it needs. If people want room, ride, quiet and space in a vehicle, then fine. That does not mean it has to be big, heavy and fuel inefficient. I really think people do not care WHAT the car runs on, as long as it runs, is convenient and affordable.
Posted by: SJC | 18 April 2007 at 12:30 PM
I wouldn't say a ten year goal with regard to cars is lame. As I read it they aren't saying that in ten years the cars being sold will have 20% better mileage but that in ten years all cars then on the street (which will actually be more cars than now) will consume 20% less total gas than the fewer number of cars on the street do now. That to me implies a pretty quick change in cars being sold and/or fuel infrastructure. Of course as someone pointed out, this could mean a big switch to biofuels rather than better mileage.
I bet those targets turn out ot be rather squishy and malleable... but maybe I'll be surprised.
Posted by: rhapsodyinglue | 18 April 2007 at 12:45 PM
just read the review in the english paper The Sunday Times of the new
Cadillac SUV type , with has just been launched in europe , on test the
car was shown to return less than 12 mpg about 10 mpg US ,
You guys over there have bigger problems than I thought!
Posted by: andrichrose | 18 April 2007 at 12:49 PM
I agree with Cervus on this one, politicians should articulate the targets society wants to set for energy security/environmental reasons. Once the externalities are known, engineers will respond by solving the problem - as long as it's not completely unrealistic.
A 20% fleet average reduction in 10 years is easily doable, especially considering how primitive many of the engines used for trucks and SUVs still are: gasoline instead of diesel, V8 instead of V6, low compression ratios, two valves, OHV cam drive etc. Same with the transmissions.
The technology already exists and all of the Big Three already have it in-house thanks to their European subsidiaries / parent. The Japanese are, if anything, even further ahead. However, as Bob Lutz pointed out, higher MPG means higher prices for the vehicles. Note that his $6000 number referred to 4% annual improvement compounded over 10 years, which adds up to ~40% - this Senate bill is much less draconian).
On the other hand, a government subsidy as large as $2.3 billion to battery developers seems totally inappropriate. First, it favors batteries over all other alternatives. Second, throwing a lot of money - bureaucratic strings firmly attached - at an engineering problem does not necessarily produce results any faster, nor are they always better. Third, it creates yet another avenue for political patronage (read: campaign contributions, corruption risks etc.) based on expensively laundered tax revenue.
Posted by: Rafael Seidl | 18 April 2007 at 01:04 PM
If the US wants any battery manufacturing to take place in their own country they are going to have to put money into it. Other countries like South Korea are already investing in battery tech. Bureaucratic strings may not help solve engineering problems, but if the engineers aren't employed they aren't solving anything.
Posted by: Neil | 18 April 2007 at 01:27 PM
They talk about achieving something by 2030 without specifying how much to achieve by 2010.
Now, there are 6 million CNG (Nat-gas) powered vehicles and its the developing countries which are leading the list.
This is another fast growing area with
3 countries having million + vehicles
9 countries having 100,000 +
24 countries having 10,000 +.
Posted by: Max Reid | 18 April 2007 at 01:31 PM
Want to reduce gasoline usage? Increase the price.
How do you do that? Increase the gas tax.
Want an even bigger kick? Use the proceeds to invest on things that help reduce fuel usage, such as mass transit, expenditures on pedestrian and cycle travel (mo' better sidewalks, cycle trails, etc), and academic research.
It turns out that very few politicians have the cajones to raise the gas tax.
Posted by: stomv | 18 April 2007 at 01:49 PM
A corvette/camaro/trans am engine (V8, 2 valves, OHV - cam in block) is fairly efficient even though it is "low tech" (of course the manufacturing and materials is not low tech). Lighter and smaller than the typical aluminum block & head SOHC V-6.
Posted by: Patrick | 18 April 2007 at 02:22 PM
$2.3 billion is better than a poke in the eye. Of course politicians can waste 2.2 billion of that, but it's still better than nothing. And I echo the hope at this money does not end up in the hands of USABC/USCAR which equals a rat hole. $2.3 billion is a new and refreshing record for battery research. It may be too little too late, but can't hurt the issue.
$2.3 billion is probably enough to run the Iraqi liberation (the mother of all rat holes) for a week or two. Imagine what $230 billion (a modest sum in the Iraqi liberation) would have or could have done toward the advancement of energy storage. Or don't.
Posted by: Lee | 18 April 2007 at 02:51 PM
Auto makers and big oil have invested billions to brainwash people all over the world that big, noisy fuel burners are best.
It won't be easy - maybe impossible - to bring about change.
Posted by: Lucas | 18 April 2007 at 02:54 PM
Let's go one better than the gas tax: let's ban ownership and usage of cars!
Posted by: Mark R. W. Jr. | 18 April 2007 at 03:33 PM
Lets talk about goals for a sec, we had a goal to end our dependence of foreign oil. Is that still our goal, or have we reached it? Yes it is still our goal, and rather than reach it, our dependence has grown. Now this 10 year goal to reduce gasoline usage by 20% is lame unless we have some bench mark goals at three years out and 7 years out. The mantra of the left, posted above, raise taxes and invest in mass transit and research has been our program . And what was accomplished? We are more dependent, our fuel use is increasing, and hybrid car battery production is based abroad. Talk about springs without water and wandering stars.
Posted by: Van | 18 April 2007 at 03:40 PM
Technology being introduced NOW to increase gas mileage 50% to 100%. Proven! It does it or your money back!
Posted by: Philip Richards | 18 April 2007 at 03:41 PM
Poven to increase gas mileage... that would be a small wooden block to stick under the gas pedal to keep people from stomping so far. I'll sell you one for $100.
Posted by: rhapsodyinglue | 18 April 2007 at 04:16 PM
peak oil is now, very soon the use of gas will fall, while the price goes up higher and higher
Posted by: anti gravity | 18 April 2007 at 05:04 PM