For many years oil dependence has been an issue touted by the Left. Partly due to environmental concerns, Democrats have led repeated efforts to curb U.S. oil consumption in the transportation sector albeit with very little success. Over the past several decades our oil dependence has grown by leaps and bounds as the fuel efficiency of American cars has dropped to its lowest point in 20 years.
On Nov. 16, 2005, a group of prominent Republicans in both the House and Senate demonstrated that oil dependence is no longer a partisan issue but rather an urgent national security issue that elevates above inside the Beltway politics. Conservative Senators Sam Brownback, Norm Coleman, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions and Richard Lugar teamed up with Democrats Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman, Ken Salazar, Bill Nelson and Barack Obama to announce the Vehicle and Fuel Choices For American Security Act which aims to reduce US oil dependence by 10 million barrels a day (mbd) within 20 years.
Based on the Blueprint for Energy Security of the Set America Free Coalition, the bill provides an array of policy initiatives from financial incentives to enable Detroit to ramp up production (and consumers to ramp up acquisition) of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and flexible fuel vehicles to increase fuel choice—to measures to reduce diesel consumption by heavy duty trucks. An almost identical bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Jack Kingston, vice-chair of the Republican Conference and 25 co-sponsors, 21 of whom are Republicans.
These are not the usual suspects you’d normally hear preaching for alternative fuels and better mileage but—reflecting the sea change in Washington about an issue most Americans regardless of political affiliation care deeply about—a group of primarily southern conservatives who are fed up by the unprecedented transfer of wealth to OPEC and the vulnerability of our transportation sector which accounts for two-thirds of U.S. oil consumption.
At a time when Republicans and Democrats find so little to agree on the recent legislation shows that energy security is as red as it is blue. Near term technologies advanced by this Act would soon bring onto our roads flexible fuel plug in hybrid electric vehicles that could run up to 500 miles per gallon of gasoline, insulating our economy against supply disruptions and political extortion by Middle East oil producers. Such technologies will reinvigorate Detroit and help restore the 30,000 jobs GM recently sliced. Republicans in Congress are ready to act, and with Democrats’ support, America can finally make significant progress toward energy security.