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House Energy Package Heading to Floor Dodges CAFE, Offers Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids

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.




Test because the website keeps acusing me of s*P*a*M

Stan Peterson

There is good advice to the effect that you should not watch laws or sausage being made.


I hope Mr Dingell is successful in reapplying a part of his of his CAFE amendment that explicitly restricts States from entering the GHGs wars, until the Science is more fully established. Even the IPCC is wavering now, and has reduced GHG to less than 85% of its previously assumed effect. The IPCC has said it expects to reduce it more, as the Science sorts itself out.

On a good government basis, Mileage standards have always been standards set, administered and enforced by the NHTSA; and air ground and water pollution standards set by the EPA. Keep it that way. Just from a good governmental aspect, why assign the same mission to two agencies when each has been doing fine with its own mission? Government is too big and less and less effective, why complicate the problem?

EPA's mission is to get the "baddies" out, and they do a reasonable job, never having created the messianic mistakes of the CARBites, for example. In the thirty odd years of the the EPA's existance the air and waters are purer by better tahn two orders of magnitude. A great job almost finished.

The messianic proposed CARBite CO2 regulations create a "backdoor" (47MPG or more?) CAFE, effective in 2012. That is flat out as impossible, as their 10% all electric auto fleet mandate of 1990 was.

I do hope that a reasonable and possible reformed CAFE as has been suggested in the Senate or House might be adopted. It will force technology in the right direction but not subvert R&D spending on impossible timetables and impossible missions. Electrification of Ground Transport is coming; lets help it along, not abort or divert R&D dollars currently slated to be spent on its progress.

Michael D., Miami, FL

With all due respect to Mr. Peterson (posted on June 30th), the EPA WAS doing a 'reasonable job' of getting 'the baddies' out, until the current administration (Bush) "appointed 22 lobbyists, lawyers, consultants or business executives to top environmental policymaking jobs in federal agencies and the White House" (Erasing the Rules: A Facelift at the EPA; by Dan Fagin of Newsday). Under that 'leadership' whose primary job in the Environmental Protection Agency was to PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT, the EPA determined that it wasn't their responsibility to restrict industrial emissions that contribute to global warming, and furthermore, decided to ease anti-pollution rules, causing New York and other states to sue the EPA to make them do their job and protect the environment and the health of the people in our country, as affected by the cleanliness of our air, soil and water.

"The messianic proposed CARBite CO2 regulations create a "backdoor" (47MPG or more?) CAFE, effective in 2012. That is flat out as impossible, as their 10% all electric auto fleet mandate of 1990 was." Again, unfortunate that you (and others) are not familiar with the facts of the issue.

As a result of the CARB (California Air Resources Board) Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate in 1990, General Motors actually came through, and by 1996, turned their concept of a completely electrical car that was fast (up to three times the highway speed limit, with 0-60mph in 9 seconds! (according to, and that could go about 100 miles without recharging into reality! They purposely debuted the EV1 using a weaker battery however, so it wouldn't appear to be as good a choice over a gas-powered car. GM later purchased a battery that was developed for it to go 100-120 miles without recharging. Now, there's even a battery that can go up to 300 miles without recharging! The EV1 required no gas or oil changes or mufflers. California even built a network of Electric Vehicle charging stations.

Then the big auto makers ganged up (March 1995: The American Automobile Manufacturing Association circulates a confidential proposal to launch a public relations “grassroots education campaign” to repeal the CARB ZEV program (just like they did last week: 'Feds Working Against State Emissions Law' by Erica Werner of the AP). With the inside help of Alan C. Lloyd, Ph.D, the Chairman of The California Air Resources Board (CARB), who was apparently only interested in fattening his own wallet, (he had just four months earlier become Chairman of the California Fuel Cell Partnership promoting development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, in direct competition with electric vehicles and a conflict of interest to his duties as chairman of CARB.), the auto and oil industries were off the hook when CARB eliminated the electrical vehicle production from the ZEV mandate.

Now, the fleet of electric vehicles is gone (after GM forcibly collected all of the EV1's from their customers and crushed them) and EV charging stations dot the California landscape, collecting dust and spider webs. Is it any wonder why the Toyota Prius is such a big hit, and the American car companies are laying off tens of thousands of workers and closing auto plants?! Now that the Prius hybrid is leading the market, the American companies are (half-heartedly) trying to catch up by making their own hybrids that don't even come close to what the Japanese hybrid cars can do. (According to the EPA, the fuel economy of combined city and highway driving for Japanese hybrids, from model year 2000 to 2006, is 42mpg. For American hybrids, which were introduced only in 2004, the combined city and highway driving fuel economy is only 25 mpg. (EPA fuel economy ratings web site,

The facts are these:

In 1990, GM had a few years' lead on the rest of the automotive industry (foreign and domestic) in electric and/or hybrid cars, and by December of 1996, the GM EV1 production electric vehicle was made available for consumer lease at $400 - 500 a month.

A FULLY ELECTRIC CAR that could reach 30mph in 3 seconds and 60mph in 9 seconds, with a top speed of 183mph, and eventually a battery that would allow it to go up to 120 miles per charge was available to the public over 10 years ago!

At the same time that American ingenuity was at it's finest, corporate greed was at it's worst. While leasing the EV1's as part of the fulfillment of the CARB's ZEV Mandate, GM and Western Petroleum States Association oil lobby were simultaneously releasing newspaper 'commentaries' and other misleading ads to misinform the public against the viability of electric cars.

In addition, the other major auto makers had produced or were producing their own hybrids (GM, Ford, Honda, Chrysler, Nissan, and Toyota all developed electric vehicle programs in response to California’s zero emission mandate — and most ended up crushing at least part of their EV fleets.), even as they filed lawsuits to kill the CARB ZEV Mandate and allow them to confiscate and destroy all of these electric and hybrid vehicles. Even as the automakers launched their EV programs, they undermined their success every step of the way so they wouldn't have to reveal to the general public the truth, that this 'messianic proposal' as you called it, was far from impossible, and was actually downright doable. The only thing holding all of this back, of course, was corporate and personal greed.


Agreed with Micheal D.

To these greedy corporate fools and twisted captains of industry who want to continue business as usual f*cking our planet: You're selling out yours and all our children. You can't breathe, drink or eat money. You can't breath, drink or eat your precious stock.

There is 20 miles of straight up live-giving atmosphere between us and the vast dead of space. After that, it's a cold, empty universe for as far as our eyes and satellites and telescopes can see. If we wreck this joint, there is no where else to go.

Maybe we are to blame for climate change, maybe not. Given the stakes, it would seem prudent to stay on the side of caution. One thing is for sure, climate change aside we're polluting the place on a massive scale due to your insistence that we burn your precious fossil fuels.

We have so many options for generating clean electrcity and the technology for us to drive around in electric vehicles is (has been) here now!

For f*cks sake wake the hell up and start making your money from fuels and technology that don't destroy, poison and threaten all life on this planet - including the lives of your kids and grandkids.

It IS doable. If startups like Phoenix Motocars ( and Telsa Motorcars can do it, then jesus, GM and Ford and Honda etc. could do it with their eyes closed. Oh wait, I forgot, our government is backed by Big Oil, Big Arms, Big Pharma and Big Auto. Forget I even mentioned it. Fat chance those cronies will ever change.

So while I'm on the tail end of my rant, I'll just thanks to you, our Captains of Industry ... for screwing our planet and putting every life support system on it at risk for the sake of your stock.

You twisted sick wankers. If the life support systems on the planet shuts down - you and your families are just as f*cked as the rest of us. No business gets conducted on a dead planet.

Thanks for your consideration.

gm volt

Not since the VW Beetle has a car been this exciting. Also, like the original Beetle, the engine is rear- mounted. It is NOT an electric car or a hybrid. It is a 60 horse power, 3- cylinder engine with 6 speed transmission (automatic or manual). Unfortunately, most of the dealerships that are selling these converted Smart Cars are charging between 22,000 and 29,900. At that price, they are no longer the economical cars that Europe has come to love. They’ re pricey show cars.

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