Bill would benefit manufacturers of alternatively fueled vehicles

By Erin Voegele | July 22, 2014

Legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would provide automakers an option to reduce their corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards by 4 miles per gallon by warranting at least half the vehicles they manufacture in a model year on any technology in addition to, or instead of, petroleum-based fuel. The bill, titled the “Fuel Choice for American Prosperity and Security Act,” was introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., on July 15 and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. To date, Reps. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., have signed on to co-sponsor the bill, also known as H.R. 5107.

“Fuel competition in our transportation sector will improve U.S. energy and national security, increase our foreign policy flexibility, spur economic growth, and lower fuel prices,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “By providing more options at the pump, we can dampen the impact of oil price volatility and reduce the leverage of oil rich governments and rogue regimes that are unstable, repressive, or hostile to the United States and who use oil as a weapon to undermine U.S. foreign policy efforts. Fuel choice will also allow the American economy to capitalize on our plentiful domestic resources, create jobs, and encourage innovation, all while driving down the price of fuel.”

“By providing automakers the option of rolling back costly fuel economy regulations, we are incentivizing a technologically neutral, free market competition for transportation fuels without government mandate and without picking winners and losers,” Ros-Lehtinen continued.

The legislation outlines several “fuel choice enabling vehicles” that would allow vehicle manufactures to qualify for the CAFE reduction. According to the bill, fuel manufacturers that warrantee at least half of the their vehicles in a particular model year for use with non-petroleum based fuels could reduce their CAFE requirements by 4 miles per gallon. Some examples highlighted in the legislation include vehicles that operate on hydrogen, propane or biodiesel, along with flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) warranted to operate on E85 and M85. Plug-in electric vehicles, those powered by fuel cells that produce power without petroleum or petroleum-based fuel, and vehicles propelled solely by something other than an internal combustion engine and warranted to operate on something other than petroleum-based fuel would also qualify.

"I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing legislation that allows consumers to choose the most cost-effective fueling option at the pump,” said Cole. “By encouraging automakers to manufacture cars that operate on a variety of fuels, this allows them to not only meet the necessary CAFE regulations but also be more competitive in the process. Certainly, this legislation helps consumers and automakers alike.”

“By incentivizing American auto companies to make better use of our abundant, domestic energy resources, we offer them the opportunity to be a part of the ‘all-the-above’ solution to our national energy and security needs,” said Salmon.