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Contact: John Gentzel, Communications Director 202-225-4315

Lessing Our Dependence on Foreign Sources of Oil

Washington, Mar 1 -

Everyday, it is becoming more evident that one of the keys to our continued success as a nation is access to reliable and affordable sources of energy.

For far too long, our focus has only been limited to finding new sources of fossil fuels. While we must continue to fuel the technology we have in place today, such a narrow focus is counterproductive. Energy demands continue to grow around the world and existing reserves of oil are being depleted faster than new reserves are brought on line.

Our dependence on foreign sources of oil is also putting our nation’s security at risk. Terrorists know that we need a vast amount of oil everyday to function, which is why hate groups around the world target oil pipelines and global shipping routes as ways of disrupting the U.S. economy. And it’s not just the individual terrorists we need to be concerned with. Many of the countries that we rely on for oil are unreliable and unstable and where any political, social or economic upheaval immediately sends shock waves that reverberate through our economy.

The bottom line is the status quo cannot support the system we have in place for much longer. We can start to change the situation, take control of our national security and improve our environment by looking at the area of our economy that’s almost entirely reliant on oil to exist – transportation.

Americans consume 25 percent of the world's produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. Of the oil consumed everyday in this country, two-thirds is used to fuel our vast and growing transportation network of cars, trucks and busses.

Legislation I introduced in December, H.R. 4640, the Future Fuels Act, would provide a financial incentive for car manufactures to alter their facilities and produce new technology vehicles, like hybrids and advanced passenger diesel vehicles. And we’d set minimum requirements for the production of these vehicles.

Using less oil not only will protect our national security, but we’ll also be doing wonderful things for the environment. Automobiles are the single largest source of air pollution with carbon dioxide, one of the largest contributors to global warming.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, using fuels blended with at least 10 percent Ethanol would account for a nearly 20 percent reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases released into the environment. And Ethanol is rapidly biodegraded in surface water, groundwater and soil and is the safest component in gasoline today. Additionally, many cars on the road today are already “flexible fuel ready,” meaning they can operate on either gasoline or an alcohol-based fuel, like Ethanol.

We need to take additional steps to put even more flexible fuel cars on the road and increase nationwide access to alternative fuels, which is why my legislation would set minimum numbers of flexible fuel vehicles that automobile manufacturers must produce in upcoming years. And, the legislation would mandate that by the time 10% of automobiles registered in any U.S. county are alternative fuel vehicles, each gas station must offer a comparable number of pumps for alternative fuels.

A provision in my legislation important for southeastern Pennsylvania in particular is an incentive to promote growth and development along existing public transportation routes by designating 50 “transit-oriented development corridors” by 2025. Communities in the transit-oriented development corridors, like the Route 422 corridor in Montgomery, Chester and Berks Counties for instance, would be eligible for special federal transit grants to fund projects like the proposed Schuylkill Valley Metro.

The Future Fuels Act would also establish policies and procedures for testing and labeling tires for fuel economy to enable tire buyers to make informed purchasing decisions about the fuel economy of tires. And we’d create two innovative pilot projects to see if we can further reduce oil use by offering financial incentives to commuters who move to mass transportation to get to work and by reevaluating how tolls are assessed on the nation’s major highways.

I worked very closely with the Set America Free Coalition and the National Resources Defense Council in coming up with the ideas for this legislation. And the idea of using more renewable fuels and alternative sources of energy was supported by the President in his State of the Union speech and is being promoted by other colleagues of mine in Congress.

With high energy prices and national security issues dominating the headlines, this is an issue whose time has arrived. My legislation is a step toward strengthening our national security while also improving the environment and moving our country away from an unhealthy dependence on foreign nations to maintain a vibrant and growing economy here at home.


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