May 18, 2005

Wyden Amendment to Propose Hybrid Vehicles Added to Senate Energy Bill

Senator's amendment would allow for vehicle purchase creditsfor hybrids vehicles, extend Federal alternative fuel vehicle program

Washington, DC - An amendment offered by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to promote the government's use of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles was included today in the comprehensive energy legislation currently being considered by the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The amendment, now a part of the Senate's energy bill, would give government agencies and fleet operators credits toward alternative fuel vehicle purchase requirements for the purchase of hybrid vehicles. Additionally, the Wyden amendment extends the Federal alternative fuel vehicle program, which requires Federal, state and local agencies that operate fleets of vehicles to purchase a minimum percentage of alternative fuel vehicles. Before Wyden's amendment was adopted, this fleet requirement was set to expire in 2010, with no plans for further requirements before 2015. "The Federal government ought to use its significant purchasing power to promote the use of hybrid vehicles that we know can directly contribute to America's independence from foreign oil," said Wyden. "This amendment is a step toward well-balanced energy legislation that meets America's needs for the 21st century." Under the first provision of the Wyden amendment, the Secretary of Energy would determine the amount of credit to give hybrids and other vehicles, so that Federal agencies and other fleet operators could have the flexibility to choose among a variety of vehicles to meet their needs and their alternative vehicle purchase requirements. Under current energy policy, hybrid vehicles with mileage rates as high as 70 miles per gallon during highway driving are disqualified as counting toward energy efficiency fleet requirements because they do not use alternative fuel. However, hybrid vehicles that are already on the road can achieve fuel efficiencies that are more than twice the current Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard. The second provision of the Wyden amendment closes an energy savings gap that would have opened in 2010, after which there would have been no alternative vehicle purchase requirement for government fleets until 2015. Without the Wyden amendment, for those five years, Federal agencies would have been able to purchase hundreds of thousands of gasoline power vehicles instead of alternative fueled vehicles. The Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) this week announced its support for the Wyden amendment: "Senator Wyden's amendment is an important step for electric drive technologies and our national energy policy," says Brian Wynne, President of EDTA. "We applaud the Senator's tireless commitment to make sustainable mobility a reality in the United States." The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee currently is considering the comprehensive energy bill; once approved, the legislation will move to the full Senate for its consideration.