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Cantwell, Hatch, Obama Announce Plan to Promote Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles

During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on transportation energy issues today, committee members Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) highlighted their bipartisan effort together with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to begin a shift in our nation's transportation sector away from conventional liquid fuels and toward electrons.

"We already have the technology right here at home to power most of the cars in America," said Cantwell. "We produce enough extra electricity right now to supply as much as 70 percent of the power needed by our cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs. More options for powering America's vehicles will save consumers money, help get us off foreign oil, and make our country more secure."

"We are facing a global energy crunch, and the fact that our transportation sector is around 97 percent dependent on oil is just plain dangerous," Hatch said, "We have to act now and we have to be creative. In my view there is no solution more practical or urgent than enacting policies that would begin to shift our transportation sector away from liquid fuels and toward a greater reliance on electrons."

"One of the most immediate actions we can take to fight climate change is to dramatically reduce our oil consumption by pushing electric vehicles into the marketplace," said Obama. "We have the technology, but we must provide incentives for consumers and manufacturers so that it is made available to the driving public. Producing electric vehicles and energy efficient technology could help the U.S. auto industry regain its competitive edge."

Their plan will lay out a three-pronged strategy to promote Plug-in Electric Drive Vehicles (PEDVs), which would include pure battery electric, extended range electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and plug-in fuel cell vehicles.

First, their proposal would provide significant tax credits to consumers who purchase PEDVs. The provision will be patterned after the CLEAR ACT, sponsored and passed by Hatch as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which is currently providing financial incentives for consumers to purchase alternative fuel and hybrid electric vehicles.

Second, their proposal would provide tax incentives for the U.S. production of PEDVs and PEDV dedicated parts.

Third, the proposal would give incentives for electric utilities to provide rebates to customers who purchase PEDVs. These incentives would be scaled in a manner that would provide the largest incentives to utilities producing the greenest energy.

The Senators are still finalizing various aspects of the legislation, which they expect to introduce soon.

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