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Groups Petition Department of Energy to Create Plug-in Car Market to Combat Global Warming

Reducing energy use to slow global warming is suddenly at the top of the nation's agenda. Because emissions from vehicles sold in the United States account for six percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, creating a market for alternative-fuel cars is a crucial part of any plan to curb climate change. Friends of the Earth and the Center for Biological Diversity today made a major push for plug-in hybrid electric cars, petitioning the Department of Energy to allow federal and state agencies to purchase plug-ins and count them as alternative-fuel vehicles under the Energy Policy Act. The move would create an instant market for these cars.

The fuel efficiency of plug-in hybrids can be dramatic, with the potential to achieve nearly 100 miles per gallon equivalent while reducing emissions and saving consumers money. Plug-ins come equipped with batteries that consumers charge at night with cheap, domestically produced electricity, allowing all-electric driving in ranges of 20 to 60 miles. These cars are plug-and-play, meaning the only infrastructure needed is a standard power cord that plugs into existing electrical outlets. Consumers can run the cars on gasoline for longer trips.

"Plug-in hybrids are on the verge of commercial production, with GM recently announcing plans for two plug-in hybrid models," said Danielle Fugere, Regional Program Director for Friends of the Earth. "The Bush administration can help push these cars into mass production simply by acknowledging that plug-in hybrids are alternative-fuel vehicles under the Act." The alternative-fuel provisions of the Energy Policy Act were intended to accomplish this goal, jump-starting the alternative-fuel vehicles market through the immense purchasing power of state and federal fleets.

According to Julie Teel, Staff Attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Program, "It would be utterly illogical to exclude this remarkable technology from coverage as an alternative-fuel vehicle under the Energy Policy Act at a time when the U.S. desperately needs to wean itself from petroleum fuel."

"The federal government has done extensive research on plug-ins; now it's time to turn this research into reality and catapult the technology into the mass market," said Jay Tutchton, Director of the University of Denver Environmental Law Clinic and author of today's petition. "U.S. companies are poised to make it happen, and the federal government should assist them by encouraging the purchase of their products."

For a copy of the petition visit or

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