NRDC Outlines Policies to Shift Rhetoric into Reality

WASHINGTON (September 28, 2006) -- President Bush must put his words about ethanol development into action after speaking in Hoover, Alabama, today on the potential of home-grown ethanol to wean America off our dependence on oil. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), President Bush is right to support the development of ethanol into America's primary transportation fuel, but he and Congress must enact forward-thinking policies to bring this fuel quickly to the vehicles and pumps across the nation.

In his February, 2006 State of the Union address, the president mentioned the potential of ethanol, and promised $150 million in research money into advanced ethanol fuels. But this is just a fraction of the amount authorized in last year's Energy Policy Act for research and development and commercialization of biofuels like ethanol.

"The president is on a forward-looking road by supporting these advanced fuels, but he's keeping his foot off the gas pedal when American farmers and families want to go full speed ahead," said Nathanael Greene, an NRDC senior policy analyst. "His administration and Congress need to enact policies that will advance these fuels quickly and affordably to move America beyond oil and cut global warming pollution."

According to NRDC analysis and advice from biofuel experts, below are the four things Washington could do now to increase the flow of ethanol, safely and affordably:

  • Invest in a package of research, development and demonstration. To spur the development of ethanol along at the proper pace and ensure that biofuels are affordable for American consumers, our leaders in Washington should invest about $1.1 billion between 2006 and 2015 in biofuels development.

  • Offer incentives for deploying the first billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels. To make sure that at least 1 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels are produced by 2015, the government should offer $1 billion in incentives to production facilities.

  • Give consumers a meaningful choice at the pump. So American families don't just choose between oil and oil at the pump, the government should require that all vehicles sold by 2015 be flex-fuel vehicles (able to use both traditional fuels and biofuels) and that at least one-quarter of gasoline stations have at least one pump dedicated to biofuels.

  • Raise fuel performance standards. The administration has had six years to raise the fuel performance standards for vehicles sold in America, and has only submitted anemic increases that will not move America beyond oil. Simply by raising the fuel economy standard for SUVs and other light trucks like those in the Hoover, Alabama, city fleet, by just one mile per gallon per year over the next five years -- to 27.2 mpg by model year 2012 -- we could save one million barrels of oil per day by 2020. That's twice as much oil as we buy from Iraq, and would also mean more efficient use of ethanol fuels grown here at home.