Open Fuel Standard introduced in House of Representatives

By Holly Jessen | July 02, 2013

If it passes muster with legislators, the Open Fuel Standard Act would require that by 2017 and onward, 50 percent of new automobiles operate on non-petroleum fuels such as ethanol and other fuels.

The bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. Five cosponsors listed on the bill are Reps. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., Tom Cole, R-Okla., Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Del. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam.

“Our economy and our national security are threatened by our dependence on foreign oil,” Engel said. “An Open Fuel Standard will help us to get off our oil addiction.” The congressman, who is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee where the bill has been referred, has added Open Fuel Standard amendments to 10 appropriations bills in the past three years. “I believe achieving energy independence for our nation is of the utmost importance,” he said, adding that the U.S. sends $600 billion to hostile nations for oil yearly. “Only through technology changes in our transportation sector will we make a substantial impact on our oil dependence.”  

The bill requires increasing amounts of new automobiles to operate on non-petroleum fuels, starting with 30 percent in 2016 and reaching 50 percent in 2017 and beyond. Existing technologies, including flex fuel vehicles, ethanol, natural gas, hydrogen, biodiesel, plug-in electric and fuel cell vehicles, are allowed by the bill. In addition, it includes a catch-all category for new technologies. “The Open Fuel Standard Act will allow all fuels, including traditional gasoline, to compete for the American consumer, lowering the price of fuel, and strengthening our energy and national security,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “… The Open Fuel Standard is an immediate and effective way to strengthen national security, lower the cost of fuel, and requires no expenditure from the federal government.  Providing new cars with flexible fuel capability would cost around $100 per car and provide huge dividends to the consumer.” 

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said he supported efforts to pass the bill. “This is all about choice. Consumers want a choice other than petroleum,” he said. “A recent poll showed that 76 percent of Americans wanted manufacturers to produce vehicles that run on fuels other than oil. The goal here is to offer consumers the most cost effective and clean energy choice possible.”

Some form of the Open Fuel Standard has been before Congress every year since 2005. For more information, see http://www.openfuelstandard.org