Democratic leadership unveils energy independence proposal

| 7/26/2006

A group of Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives has announced details of a planned bill designed to foster energy independence and security for the U.S.

According to a press release from the office of Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-MD, the Program for Energy Security Act, or Progress Act, contains five major components dealing with alternative fuels, security and high efficiency vehicles. He and seven other Democrats in the House are joining to push for passage of the act.

“Mr. Hoyer has done a service to the country by offering a solid plan that will get America on track toward achieving energy independence,” said Rep. John Dingell, D-MI, ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

“Millions of vehicles already on the road are capable of operating on alternative fuels such as E-85. His proposal would give consumers the opportunity to use these fuels by ensuring they are readily available.”

Also supporting the act is Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-MN, ranking Democrat on the Transportation Committee, who said it will help save fuel nationwide.

The first component of the act would establish a National Energy Security Commission consisting of government, industry and academic representatives who would work to create national goals regarding energy security with respect to regional energy issues and present recommendations to Congress, which would have to act under expedited rules.

The second component would establish the New Manhattan Center for High Efficiency Vehicles that would create a vehicle efficiency consortium and set aside a minimum of $500 million a year for 10 years for alternative fuel and vehicle technology programs at the federal level.

The third component would establish a National Biofuels Infrastructure Development Program that would reimburse private sector partners to share costs of investing in wholesale and retail biofuel pumps, tanks and other distribution equipment.

The fourth component aims to increase the use of biofuels by developing a rail infrastructure program that would create stimulus packages to foster the upgrade of pipelines for biofuels, including the freight rail system, to get an affordable and reliable supply of biofuels to market.

The fifth component is to increase the use of alternative fuels by increasing their use in federal and state fleets, by developing biofuel plants in every region of the country and speeding the development of quality and environmental standards that are needed to promote the use of alternative fuels.

Other House members sponsoring the bill include: Rep. Mark Udall, D-CO; Rep. Stephanie Herseth, D-SD; Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR; Rep. Adam Schiff, D-CA; and Rep. Rush Holt, D-NJ.