Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Senate Announces Bill for Flex-Fuel Vehicle Standard

On Tuesday, independent Sen. Joe Lieberman will stand up with a senator from each party to advocate their new Open Fuel Standard Act. Lieberman, Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Ken Salazar, D-Colo., are introducing the bill, which will demand large percentages of new vehicles be equipped to use alternative fuels.

Half of new automobiles by 2012 would have to roll off the assembly line as "flex fuel vehicles warranted to operate on gasoline, ethanol, and methanol, or be warranted to operate on biodiesel." By 2015, it would be 80 percent.

The lawmakers contend that such a bill would help break America free of reliance on the international oil market.

The significance of the bill will be two fold: first, the inclusion of methanol, along with ethanol will help to significantly diversify the energy mix since methanol can be made from a much wider variety of sources than ethanol. Interestingly, it can be made from CO2 which gives it the potential to address two concerns at the same time. Imagine, sequestering CO2 from coal fired powerplants and repurposing the CO2 for transportation fuel.

The second significance is that it applied to all cars SOLD, not made, in the US. This means that foreign car manufacturers would have to add flex fuel capability to their fleets, in effect creating an international standard for flex fuel which would force gasoline to compete on a worldwide stage with alternative, domestically produced fuels.