Statement of Senator James M. Jeffords, I-Vt.
Oversight Hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
To Examine Transportation Fuels of the Future

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 is on transportation fuels for the future. As the Ranking Member of this committee, I agree that it is important that we have oversight hearings like this one that allows the panel and members alike to peek into the future and make educated guesses on what we will find there. Given that we are now in a new millennium, it seems to be a natural human inclination to wonder what the future will bring. But, particularly given the high pump prices we are now experiencing, we need to help shape that future into one that provides stable, clean domestic supplies of transportation fuels at affordable prices. Our lifestyle and economy in this country is based on the abundant supply of petroleum in the form of gasoline and diesel. Today, the internal combustion engine powers most of our vehicles. However, nothing lasts forever, and we are seeing our plentiful oil and low prices disappear. The outlook for petroleum reserves in the U.S. this century is not rosy. As the oil supply decreases, especially of clean burning sweet—or low sulfur—crude, prices will increase. We need to make sure that we have a good idea where we go next. We need to continue to increase our efficiency and reduce pollution in existing internal combustion engine designs and ultimately transition from a petroleum?based economy into a new clean fuel?based economy. Such a transition will be crucial to our national well-being into the next century and beyond. I do not mean to suggest that such a solution is easy. 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, we have taken important steps. Our efforts to reduce harmful components, such as sulfur in fuels, and to boost the use of ethanol while maintaining refiner flexibility have worked well. It should be a model for our fuel and pollution policies today and in the future. When I visited Iceland last year, I rode on a fuel cell bus and saw first hand the promise of this technology. 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 environmentally friendly solution I have always advocated. These innovations have the potential to propel us into an era when driving a car or truck will no longer mean polluting the environment or using up scarce resources. Thank you, again, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.