U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   09/06/2006
 
Statement of Senator James M. Jeffords
Oversight on Federal Renewable Fuels Programs

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to extend a welcome to the witnesses. I appreciate the time they have taken to appear before us today.

Today's hearing examines the state of federal renewable fuels programs. It is an important and needed examination.

Though pump prices have eased somewhat in the last month, America has seen record gasoline prices this year. Our lifestyle and economy in this country is based on an abundant supply of gasoline and diesel. However, nothing lasts forever, and we are seeing plentiful, secure global trade in oil and low prices disappear.

What we need is a future based upon the abundant supply of domestically produced clean and low-carbon fuel. What’s more, our federal policy needs to directly shape that future. We need to push for the development of stable, clean domestic transportation fuel supplies at affordable prices.

I have worked toward this goal throughout my entire Congressional career. Nearly two decades ago, I introduced legislation that would have required the Secretary of Energy to establish a program to replace gasoline as a motor fuel with renewable fuels. That bill, the Replacement Motor Fuels Act of 1979, would have directed the Secretary to find the most suitable raw materials and set a goal of replacing 20 percent of the gasoline with renewable fuels by 1992. I introduced similar legislation in nearly every Congress since, until we adopted the Renewable Fuels Standard as part of last year’s Energy law.

I regard the RFS as the first step, and one that only produces a transition fuel on our way to a more climate-friendly future. There are incredible complexities involved in forming a well rounded and flexible approach to meeting the nation's fuel requirements, while at the same time protecting our environment. But I know we can do the job if we have the national will to do so.

When I visited Iceland in 2004, I rode on a fuel cell bus and saw first-hand the promise of this technology. That bus obtained hydrogen from water. The fuel cell holds the possibility of marrying low or non polluting engines with renewable fuels. This opens the possibility of a future free of the constraints of limited fuel and pollution. It is exactly the kind of environment-friendly solution I have always advocated.

These innovations have the potential to move us into an era when driving a car or truck will no longer mean causing dangerous global warming pollution or using up scarce resources.

Thank you, again, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.