Bartlett calls for more alternative-fuel cars
As gas prices in Maryland hover just under $4 a gallon, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday to press for legislation that would require auto manufacturers to produce more alternative-fuel vehicles.
The bill, known as the Open Fuel Standard Act, would require that 50 percent of new automobiles manufactured in 2014 be able to run on non-petroleum fuels in addition to regular gasoline. By 2017, the measure would require 97 percent of new vehicles to run on alternative fuels.
“It is a certainty that we’re going to have to be burning different fuels in the future in addition to the oil we burn now,” said the Western Maryland Republican, who has long warned of the nation’s reliance on oil.
Putting more alternative-fuel vehicles on the road would drive up demand for ethanol, methanol and other fuels, creating more competition at the pump, supporters said. Though similar proposals have been embraced by lawmakers in both parties, the idea has failed in Congress in the past – partly under pressure from the auto industry.
As currently written, the measure does not include an enforcement mechanism to penalize companies that do not comply.
Supporters hope the high price of gas can give the measure some momentum in Congress this year. The average price for regular unleaded gas in Maryland is $3.80, about two cents higher than the national average, according to AAA.
“It’s a bipartisan piece of legislation whose time has come,” said Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican from Illinois.