Responding to President's B.P. Spill Speech, Group Says "Pass the Open Fuel Standard Bill"

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Energy Alternatives for the 21st Century (EA-21) - http://www.ea-21.org - charges that President Obama's calls for action on energy policy have lacked a clear focus on effective steps to get us off of oil and that the President's speech Tuesday night seems to be more of the same. It's time for Presidential leadership -- rather than just rhetoric -- in order to pass the Open Fuel Standard bill, S 835, now being considered by Congress. -- the only quick, cheap and effective way to significantly reduce our dependence on oil.

Even if you think that a change in our energy use and in our national energy policy should be a priority, more Presidential rhetoric on the subject without clear focus on solutions that will work is the last thing we need to get off of oil.

"Despite committing more than $50 billion for the development of alternative energy technology, America is no closer today to ending our dependence on oil than when President Obama came to office," charged Jack Halpern, President of Energy Alternatives for the 21st Century (EA-21). "We are disappointed that the President's latest approach is more talk on energy without a clear focus on the actions we really need to take to get off of oil. From his silence on the one measure in Congress that would make an immediate impact - S 835, the Open Fuel Standard bill -- it appears that the President has no intention of asserting the leadership we need on this issue.    Talk on energy is cheap; but instead of just talk it's time for action and for focus on real solutions that will get results. Mr. President, it's time to pass the Open Fuel Standard bill, the one quick, cheap and reliable way to reduce our dependence on oil."

The full text of Mr. Halpern's remarks follows:

Many Congressional leaders have complained that the President's speech Tuesday night should have focused on immediate action to stop the Gulf oil spill, rather than on suggestions that we rely more on alternatives and less on oil. But even if you think that such a change in our energy use and in our national energy policy should be a priority, more Presidential rhetoric on the subject without clear focus on solutions that will work is the last thing we need.

Despite committing more than $50 billion in the last year for the development of alternative energy technology, America today is no closer to ending our dependence on oil than when President Obama came to office. The President's approach for getting us off of oil has failed for the same reason he has failed to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf: lack of clear focus and coordinated executive action. We are disappointed that the President's latest approach is more talk on energy without a clear focus on the specific actions we need to take to get off of oil.

Put simply, there is only one way to reduce U.S. oil consumption: reduce its use for gasoline and other transportation fuels. The reason that is the case is that practically none of the oil we use in the U.S. is consumed producing electricity, and, therefore, using renewables to generate electric power won't save more than a drop of oil. So, while the billions of dollars that the Obama Administration has set aside for solar, wind and geothermal power can produce electricity cleanly and address climate change, that approach can do virtually nothing to reduce our dependence on oil.

And, while other alternatives that address transportation directly such as electric cars, hydrogen fuel cells or compressed natural gas may have promise for the future, it will be decades before enough cars using these radical new automotive technologies are sold to make a significant difference in the amount of oil our nation consumes.

The bottom line is that there is only one quick, cheap and sure way to get us off of oil right now: using alternative liquid fuels to fuel millions of so-called "flexible fuel" cars - cars whose internal combustion engines are nearly identical to those powered by gasoline, but which incorporate a number of very small changes that enable them to run on both gasoline and on these alternative fuels.

There is ample proof that such an approach could be put in place quickly and that it could be effective. First of all, there already are an estimated 9 million of these flexible-fuel cars on the road in the U.S. today - each built at a cost of only $100 more than an ordinary car, and each capable of running on a mix of gasoline and alternative liquid fuels. U.S. auto manufacturers have admitted that they can produce millions more of these cars right now.

Second, every car sold in Brazil is manufactured with this capability -many of them built by American manufacturers - because the Brazilian government requires this feature. The result is that since February 2008 the volume of alternative fuels sold for cars in Brazil has surpassed that of gasoline. If Brazil can get results like these so can we. All that seems to be missing for the U.S. to do it is to put in place a law requiring the manufacture of flexible fuel cars.

To match what Brazil is doing and make an immediate impact on our nation's oil consumption we need Presidential leadership to put that policy in place. But, from his silence on S 835, the Open Fuel Standard bill - legislation that is now before Congress to put this measure in place - it appears that the President has no intention of asserting the leadership we need.

Presidential talk on energy is cheap; but instead of just talk it's time for action and for focus on real solutions that will get results. . Mr. President, it's time to pass the Open Fuel Standard bill, the one quick, cheap and reliable way to reduce our dependence on oil.

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