Opening Statement of Chairman Bingaman
“Thank you all for coming to testify today to give us your thoughts on two important bills, S. 734 and S. 948; these bills are aimed at accelerating the development and deployment of advanced vehicle technologies. The topics we’re discussing today have been a high priority for the Committee for some time. These bills are constructive steps forward for our energy security, economic security and, ultimately, our competitiveness internationally, so I commend the authors of this legislation.
“I’m sure there will be plenty of debate about the causes and short-term fixes for high prices for gasoline hat the pump, I think the case has been settled for some time now that the economic and national security costs of our current reliance on oil are unacceptable. I don’t think there’s any real debate that the only way we are going to have any substantial effect on our oil reliance is by reducing the amount we use for transportation. This means both increasing the efficiency of traditional combustion engines and increasing alternatives for powering vehicles.
“There are promising technologies today in alternative fuels, increasing engine efficiency, and lightweight materials, but, because they are new and produced at small scales, they are not yet seen as widely commercially available and viable. Other technologies in even earlier stages need more research and development before they are commercially ready. The bills that we are discussing here today are focused on both of these areas.
“Senator Stabenow’s bill would provide a useful structure to do the research and development programs at the Department of Energy, as well as providing tools to effectively partner with industry to quickly bring advances to the commercial marketplace. It also brings more focus to the important medium and heavy-duty vehicle segment; this is an area where substantial fuel-savings opportunities exist.
“Senators Merkley and Alexander, joined together in a bill by Senator Dorgan in the last Congress, provide for a targeted approach to overcome initial barriers to widespread deployment of light-duty vehicles powered by electricity. The benefits of replacing some portion of oil use with domestically generated, and comparatively cheap, electricity are obvious. This likely accounts for the strong vote in favor of the bill in this Committee last Congress. I believe the vote was 19 – 4 in reporting this legislation.
“Once again, this is a timely topic, and we look forward to getting people’s updated views on the topic.”
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