The alternative fuels industry received support from President George W. Bush during his State of the Union Address on January 23. Recognizing the importance of reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil, Bush asked Congress, as well as all Americans, to unite with him in the massive goal of reducing U.S. gasoline usage by 20 percent in the next ten years.

“When we do that, we will have cut our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East,” Bush said.

President Bush delivers State of the Union

President Bush delivered his State of the Union Address on January 23, 2007. Vice President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi applaud in the background. Credit: White House photo by David Bohrer

Achieving this goal, however, has more benefits than the increase in our nation’s energy security. The President’s proposed “Twenty in Ten” plan also addresses climate change concerns by dramatically slowing, or even stopping, the projected growth of carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles within ten years. The plan has three steps, with the first step increasing the supply of renewable and alternative fuels by setting a mandatory fuels standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017. This increase is nearly five times that of the 2012 target in current law. The second step calls for the reform and modernization of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and extending the current light-truck rule.

“We need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks and conserve up to 8.5 billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017,” said Bush.

The third step of the plan requires the Federal Government to invest in new sources of energy. Bush requested that America “step up” its production of domestic oil, but to do so in manners sensitive to the environment. He asked Congress to double the current capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to 1.5 billion barrels by 2027. A fact sheet released by the White House reports that “doubling the SPR alone will provide approximately ninety-seven days of net oil import protection, enhancing America’s ability to respond to potential oil disruptions.”

The day following the State of the Union Address, Bush signed an executive order stating ways the Federal Government is expected to contribute to the “Twenty in Ten” plan. Those Federal Government contributions relating to alternative fuels include the reduction of oil consumption in fleet vehicles and an increase in the use of renewable and alternative fuels. The President has directed federal agencies to reduce oil consumption in fleet vehicles by 2 percent annually through 2015, while simultaneously purchasing plug-in hybrid vehicles whenever available. Bush also directed federal agencies to increase alternative fuel consumption by a minimum of 10 percent annually.

After signing the executive order, Bush toured the DuPont Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware. The tour focused on current research conducted by DuPont that involves the production of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural waste.

“I came wondering whether or not cellulosic ethanol was one of these things down the road that may be happening, may not, could end up being science or science fiction. It’s going to be science. It’s working,” said Bush after concluding his tour.

There were many positive reactions to the President’s plan, and many seem to agree that Bush’s goals are definitely a step in the right direction.

“Alternative fuel vehicles and advanced technology vehicles will be an important part of our future, but we must work so that they continue to become a solution in the here and now,” said National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium Executive Director Al Ebron. “Not only will these vehicles help increase our energy security, but they are a proactive way to protect our environment and, in turn, our families and loved ones.”

Brian Wynne, president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association, looks forward to the progress that will result from these goals and wants to “ensure that the benefits of electric drive in efficiency and fuel diversity are maximized in any effort to break America’s oil addiction.”

Information on additional recently-proposed alternative fuels legislation can be found in this edition of eNews.

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