Will President Bush Shift Course on Oil Addiction?

In his State of the Union address, President Bush responded to the growing chorus of Americans concerned about the nation's reliance on oil, acknowledging that "America is addicted to oil." However, the president's talk about a proposed "Advanced Energy Initiative" falls well short of what we really need -- a meaningful action plan for getting America off oil.

Fortunately, the president doesn't have to look far for real solutions. A bipartisan coalition of Senate and House members has introduced legislation that would save 2.5 million barrels of oil a day within a decade -- an amount equal to what we import from the Persian Gulf today.

This bill, the "Fuel Choices for American Security Act," would achieve bigger oil savings faster than the plan that President Bush sketched out in his speech. It would protect jobs now at risk in the auto sector, and boost the market for fuels made from agricultural products grown right here at home. Its sponsors run the length of the political spectrum, from the conservative right to the liberal left.

The president's speech focused on long term research and development projects in technologies and new fuels. That's good news -- but the bigger challenge today is to get good technologies out of the lab, onto the roads, and into our gas tanks. That means we need sensible new performance standards, combined with incentives to help consumers, farmers and manufacturers truly move us be past our oil dependence.

Among the provisions of the "Fuel Choices for American Security Act" are:

  • Concrete oil savings targets, starting at 2.5 million barrels of oil per day within 10 years using an mix of new and existing authorities and incentives that will make the US economy more competitive;

  • Incentives for automotive manufacturers and parts suppliers to invest in more efficient technologies to get the Detroit's Big 3 back on their feet in the face of rising oil prices.

  • Incentives for American farmers to grow a new generation of fuels made from plants, and help for local gas station owners who install new pumps to get the fuel into drivers' tanks.

  • The power to set new efficiency performance standards for tires and heavy duty trucks.

At this writing, the "Fuel Choices for American Security Act" has 41 cosponsors in the House and 12 cosponsors in the Senate, including Senators Brownback (R-KS), Bayh (D-IN), Lieberman (D-CT), Coleman (R-MN), Sessions (R-AL), Graham (R-SC), Obama (D-IL), Lugar (R-IN), Salazar (D-CO), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Isakson (R-GA), and Chafee (R-RI), as well as the Vice Chair of the Republican Conference Rep. Kingston (R-GA), Rep. Engel (D-NY), and 32 other House cosponsors.

This bill is also supported by the Set America Free coalition, a bipartisan group of national security experts and religious, environmental and labor leaders. See the coalition's fact sheet (pdf) on the "Fuel Choices for American Security Act."