Legislation Would Mandate Alternative Fuel Vehicles

With Congress increasingly critical of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), legislation introduced last week is taking a different tack: it would require that 30 percent of new automobiles in 2016 operate on non-petroleum fuels instead of, or in addition to, petroleum-based fuels. That figure would increase to 50 percent in 2017 and in subsequent years.

The Open Fuel Standard Act (H.R. 2493) introduced by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), would allow flexible fuel vehicles; vehicles operating on natural gas, hydrogen, or biodiesel; plug-in electric drive vehicles; and fuel cell vehicles to count toward meeting the standard. The legislation has been introduced before, but this time supporters hope the legislation could be a part of negotiations among lawmakers as they seek to reform the RFS,  which requires 36 billion gallons of ethanol and other renewable fuels in the nation's fuel supply by 2022. Last week, as a House Energy subcommittee held a hearing on the RFS, a Department of Energy administrator acknowledged in written testimony that the RFS program “is not projected to come close to achievement of that goal” because of a lack of production of cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels.



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