Legislation Includes First Increase In CAFE Standards In 32 Years
Dec 01 2007
Key members of the House and Senate, including Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), late last night reached an agreement on sweeping reforms to the nation’s energy policy. The compromise legislation, which was coauthored by Sen. Carper and must now be voted upon by the House and Senate, includes for the first time in 32 years, increases the efficiency of cars and trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
“It is difficult to over emphasize how critical it is for our country to make progress in this arena,” said Sen. Carper of H.R. 6, the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007. “We have three important goals when it comes to energy technology. First, we must reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil. Second, we must reduce harmful emissions that lead to climate change and negative health effects. Finally, we must achieve the first two goals without hurting our domestic auto industry. I believe this compromise meets those criteria.”
“There is a great opportunity here for our country to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reduce harmful emissions to our air, and nurture a clean-energy culture that creates jobs and produces technology we can export throughout the world,” said Sen. Carper.
In June 2007, a major bipartisan compromise on fuel efficiency standards was coauthored by Sen. Carper and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) that increased the fleet-wide average for all cars, trucks and SUVs sold in the United States from 25 to 35 miles per gallon by Model Year 2020. This language was included in the final compromise bill. By 2020, the fuel economy increases for cars and light-duty trucks would:
- Save between 2.0 and 2.5 million barrels of oil per day, nearly the amount of oil imported today from the Persian Gulf.
- Achieve up to 18 percent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from anticipated levels, or the equivalent of taking 60 million cars off the road in one year.
- Save consumers $79-98 billion at the pump, based on a $3 gas price.
To help U.S. automakers meet these higher fuel standards, Sen. Carper also fought to include provisions in the energy bill to support research and development in batteries for plug-in hybrids; require the U.S. government to buy more efficient, advanced technology vehicles, like the forthcoming Hybrid Dodge Durango and the Chrysler Aspen; and to set standards for renewable fuels. The provisions included in the final bill most closely tied to Sen. Carper’s efforts in committee and on the Senate floor are:
Mirroring provisions in legislation introduced earlier this year with fellow Delaware Democrat Sen. Joe Biden, the energy bill now includes a Carper amendment that significantly increases government investments in new battery technology needed to operate electric vehicles and produce a new generation of “plug-in” hybrids.
It supports the development of advanced electric components, systems and vehicles, by providing funding for battery research at national laboratories, universities and small businesses.
Negotiated by Sen. Carper, another provision requires the U.S. government to ensure that, after 2009, 70 percent of the vehicles the federal government buys must be advanced technology vehicles. This includes hybrids, fuel cell cars and flexible fuel vehicles.
A Carper-backed amendment in the final energy bill establishes national standards for biodiesel to promote the building and use of vehicles that run on biodiesel. This mirrored another initiative in the Biden-Carper bill to set a national standard for biodiesel, a cleaner-burning fuel made from natural and renewable sources.
Sen. Carper also pushed for the inclusion of a new renewable fuels standard that requires the President to ensure more renewable fuels are consumed for motor vehicles, home heating oil and boiler fuels. This energy bill requires advanced biofuels like biodiesel, and biobutnol being developed by DuPont, increase from three billion gallons in 2006 to 21 billion gallons in 2022.
Finally, in many coastal areas like Delaware, offshore wind is currently the only available and economically competitive “clean” renewable energy resource of substantial size. Sen. Carper had included in the final energy bill his amendment to authorize $5 million for the Minerals Management Service (MMS) to fund a comprehensive, quantitative assessment of the offshore wind resource of the Eastern Outer Continental Shelf to provide MMS with the science-based tools to identify areas to build new wind energy generation projects. The Delaware Public Service Commission and three other state agencies are currently negotiating a purchase power agreement for what could be the nation’s first offshore wind farm. According to preliminary estimates by the University of Delaware, if the Delaware offshore wind resource was fully exploited, it would provide about twice the average electric power needs of the entire state.
The House and Senate are expected to take up the compromise bill starting this week.
“We are close,” said Sen. Carper, “but we’ll rest only after the bill becomes law.”