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Biden: Another Supporter of Plug-In Cars (and Amtrak)

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  • Felix Kramer
    The choice of Sen. Joe Biden as Sen. Barack Obama s running mate brings another strong advocate of progressive policies on energy and transportation to the
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 23, 2008
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      The choice of Sen. Joe Biden as Sen. Barack
      Obama's running mate brings another strong
      advocate of progressive policies on energy and
      transportation to the campaign and it may further
      heat up the Obama-McCain race for the best
      policies on plug-in cars. Biden supports
      expansion of renewable fuels, strong legislation
      on climate change -- and last year he authored
      legislation to fund advanced battery development for plug-in hybrids.

      At the Springfield, IL announcement, we also
      heard the story of how Biden decided to take the
      train from Washington to Wilmington -- 90 minutes
      each way every day -- when he arrived in the
      Senate thirty-five years ago. After his wife and
      daughter died in a car crash, he chose not to
      move to Washington but to raise his two sons in
      Delaware. Now one of those grown-up sons is on
      Amtrak's Board of Directors, and Sen. Biden still
      takes that train every day and is a strong supporter of public transportation.

      We mention this because we can't forget that
      electrification of transportation is only one key
      part of the broad transition we're beginning. In
      response to our posting yesterday about Pickens
      and using natural gas for cars, Mark Wiener, a
      CalCars-News subscriber, responded, "with respect
      to CO2, putting more goods on trains instead of
      trucks and encouraging residential, solar water
      heaters is hardly ever mentioned. But these are
      potent methods of reducing CO2 and they are
      economical for the end user." The U.S. differs
      from almost every other industrial country in
      shipping most goods by truck instead of by train.
      As we talk enthusiastically about plug-in cars,
      conservation, mass transit, and "smart growth" to
      reduce vehicle miles travelled are even more effective solutions!

      Below are a Detroit News report on Biden's
      selection, excerpts from his positions on plug-in
      cars from his Senate re-election campaign website
      and his Senate website, and details of his
      legislation on batteries. And look for a second
      posting with more about plug-in cars at the Denver Convention.

      Biden little known in Michigan, but is friend of automakers
      Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau Saturday, August 23, 2008

      Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware is little-known to
      Michigan voters: Detroit News polling firm
      EPIC-MRA last asked about Michigan voters'
      attitudes toward him, in May of last year, 39
      percent of likely Democratic primary voters said
      they had not heard of him; the number is almost
      certainly higher for the full electorate.

      But Biden's legislative record includes a lot of
      work on Michigan's signature industry: autos. He
      was intensely involved in Delaware's unsuccessful
      attempts to keep Chrysler's Newark, Del.,
      assembly plant open. Last year, he authored a
      bill calling for a five-year, $500 million boost
      for research on lithium-ion batteries, the
      crucial technology for making plug-in hybrid electric vehicles practical.

      In an opinion piece that appeared in Wilmington
      News Journal, his state's largest paper, in the
      wake of the Newark plant decision, Biden and Rep.
      Mike Castle wrote, "We must do whatever it takes
      to help our domestic auto manufacturers remain competitive."

      Though Biden, like most Democrats, generally has
      favored higher federal fuel economy standards,
      "he has always been there for us on auto issues"
      said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing.

      Biden grew up in working-class Scranton, Pa., and
      he could improve the Democratic ticket's appeal
      to white working-class voters and help solidify
      support with organized labor. And he is Roman
      Catholic; Catholics make up between one-quarter
      and one-third of the Michigan electorate, and are
      a constituency Obama sometimes struggled to win during the primaries.

      FROM 4BIDEN.COM (Senate re-election site): Super efficient technologies:

      There are now superefficient plug-in hybrids
      which can get 100 miles to the gallon, powered by
      lithium ion batteries. These hybrids are
      dominated by foreign competitors from Japan,
      Korea and China. These countries have invested
      hundreds of millions of dollars in developing and
      supporting the new technologies. Joe Biden
      believes that America needs to make an equal
      investment in new technology. He has proposed
      legislation that would double our investment in
      the development of batteries needed for hybrid
      electric vehicles. http://www.4biden.com/news/energy-environment/

      "There is no question our oil dependence is
      threatening our national security. It helps fuel
      the fundamentalism we’re fighting. Our oil
      dependence limits our options and our influence
      around the world, because oil rich countries
      pursuing policies we oppose can stand up to us,
      while oil dependent allies may be afraid to stand
      with us. If we don’t change our policy, oil will
      further empower the countries that produce it,
      restrict our options, and undermine our economic
      and physical security. Where we can have the most
      impact is stopping our demand for oil from
      increasing as our economy grows. We know where to
      start: expand alternative fuels and improve
      vehicle efficiency. We can do this. We can absolutely do this."


      Senator Biden believes that in the near term, our
      energy policy should focus on energy security ­
      which we can start to strengthen right now by
      reducing our own oil consumption and focusing our
      attention on significant investment in renewable sources of energy. He would:


      Economy Standards By 1 Mile Per Gallon More Each
      Year: Senator Biden was pleased that in 2007, for
      the first time since 1979, Congress passed a
      provision that restructured the automotive fuel
      economy program and raised standards. Senator
      Biden believed that the provision should have
      gone further, by upgrading to a better system
      that combines protection for U.S. automobile
      manufacturing jobs with predictable increases in
      fuel efficiency standards for cars, SUVs and
      light trucks. The new system would set fuel
      economy standards based on the attributes of a
      vehicle (such as its size and weight), with
      individualized fuel economy targets that increase
      by 4 percent per year (or approximately 1 mile
      per gallon each year) reaching a 40 mpg average
      by 2017 which will save approximately the amount
      of oil we import from Saudi Arabia.

      Invest in New Super-Efficient Technology: The
      market for lithium ion batteries ­ those needed
      for super-efficient plug-in hybrids which can get
      100 mpg ­ is dominated by foreign competitors
      like the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese. That is
      because these countries have invested hundreds of
      millions of dollars in developing and supporting
      the technology. Senator Biden believes the United
      States needs to make an equal investment in new
      technology like lithium ion batteries. He has
      proposed legislation that would double investment
      in the development of advanced lithium ion
      batteries needed for plug-in hybrids and electric
      vehicles ­ increasing it from $42 million to $100
      million a year for five years.

      SENATOR BIDEN'S REMARKS on introducing the
      "American Automobile Industry Promotion Act of 2007" (S.1055)

      Sen. Joseph Biden [D-DE]: [Introducing S. 1055]
      Mr. President, today I am introducing The
      American Automobile Industry Promotion Act of
      2007 to jump-start next generation battery
      technology development in the United States and
      extend incentives to American-made highly efficient vehicles.

      This legislation authorizes $100 million a year
      for 5 years to advance new battery technology--an
      amount double the administration's current budget
      request. On a national and international level,
      we must do whatever it takes to help our domestic
      auto manufacturers remain competitive.

      Right now, the Japanese dominate the market for
      lithium ion batteries because they invested
      hundreds of millions of dollars in developing
      this technology and in supporting their domestic
      industry. And, the Koreans and the Chinese are
      not far behind. American auto manufacturers are
      playing catch-up and we need to move quickly.

      Specifically, I am proposing to support the
      development of advanced electric components,
      systems and vehicles, by providing funds for
      battery research to national laboratories, small
      businesses, and institutes of higher learning.
      The bill will also establish, through a
      competitive selection process, an Industry
      Alliance of private, U.S. based, for-profit firms
      whose primary business is battery development.
      The Industry Alliance would be an advisory
      resource on short and long term battery technology development.

      The new research initiative will have four major
      areas of focus: (1) Research and Development
      including battery technology, high-efficiency
      charging systems, high-powered drive-train
      systems, control systems and power train
      development, and nanomaterial technology for
      battery and fuel cell systems. (2) Demonstration.
      The initiative also creates a demonstration
      program which would devote resources toward
      demonstration, testing and evaluation of hybrid
      electric vehicles for many different applications
      including military, mass market passenger and SUV
      vehicles. (3) Education. The initiative will
      support curriculum development in secondary, high
      school, as well as higher education institutions
      that focus on electric drive systems and
      component engineering. (4) Testing. Finally, the
      initiative would work with the EPA to develop
      testing and certification procedures for criteria
      pollutants, fuel economy, and petroleum use in vehicles.

      In addition to research and development for the
      lithium ion battery, the American Automobile
      Industry Promotion Act will also set a national
      standard for biodiesel, a cleaner-burning fuel
      made from natural and renewable sources; and
      expand tax credit eligibility for consumers who
      purchase more fuel-efficient diesel vehicles.
      Today's diesels are cleaner than their
      predecessors, are in compliance with EPA
      emissions standards, and are 30 percent more fuel
      efficient than an equivalent gasoline engine.
      Specifically, the bill expands the emissions
      requirements to qualify for a tax credit for
      various weight diesel vehicles, increasing the
      number of American-manufactured more fuel
      efficient diesel vehicles that qualify. This
      provision would expire in four years, at which
      time all highly efficient vehicles will have to
      meet higher emissions standards to qualify for the tax credit.

      Now is the time to act. It's not too late, but we
      do not have the luxury of waiting. If we are ever
      to be truly competitive in the global auto market
      and free from our dependence on foreign oil, we
      must move forward on all fronts.

      I ask unanimous consent that the text of the
      legislation be printed in the Record.

      EESI LEGISLATIVE REPORT: Biden Pushes Plug-Ins in New Legislation

      Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) recently joined a
      growing list of policymakers in support of
      plug-in hybrids with the introduction of
      legislation to significantly increase the
      nation's investment in the development of
      advanced lithium-ion batteries for electric
      vehicles and plug-in hybrids. The “American
      Automobile Industry Promotion Act of 2007”
      (S.1055) authorizes $100 million per year for
      five years to advance relevant
      technologies. This amount is double the
      Administration’s current budget request for
      battery and advanced vehicle component research and development.
      Currently, the United States lacks capacity to
      manufacture advanced batteries for hybrids and
      sources its batteries from foreign
      markets. Domestic automakers and policymakers
      alike have called for an accelerated effort to
      develop domestic manufacturing capacity for
      advanced batteries. Senator Biden, who hails
      from Delaware, a major auto manufacturing state,
      believes the U.S. must assist domestic automakers
      in staying competitive with international lithium
      ion battery research and development. His bill
      would specifically support the development of
      advanced electronic components, systems and
      vehicles by providing funds for battery research
      to national laboratories, academic institutions and small businesses.

      To view the Biden plug-in bill, please visit:
      http://thomas.loc.gov (Type S.1055 as the bill number)

      Biden bill pays for battery research
      Lithium ion technology would improve hybrid cars
      By LULADEY B. TADESSE March 30, 2007

      Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., introduced legislation
      Thursday that would boost federal investment in
      the development of lithium ion batteries that he
      says is critical for producing the next generation of hybrid vehicles.

      Biden's bill, called "The American Automobile
      Industry Promotion Act of 2007," would provide
      $100 million a year for five years toward
      research and development of battery technology.
      The funds would go toward battery research at
      national laboratories, small businesses and educational institutions.

      Supporters say lithium ion battery research is a
      key to the development of advanced hybrid
      technology such as plug-in hybrid cars. Unlike
      gas-electric hybrids like the Toyota Prius,
      plug-in hybrids use electric power and travel
      extended ranges without using gasoline. But the
      development of plug-in cars is stunted because
      more research is needed in lithium ion batteries,
      Biden said. Such batteries are expensive and
      there are very few manufacturers in the United States.

      "Right now, the Japanese dominate the market for
      lithium ion batteries because they invested
      hundreds of millions of dollars in developing
      this technology and in supporting their domestic
      industry. ... American auto manufacturers are
      playing catch-up and we need to move quickly," Biden said.

      Automakers in Delaware, including DaimlerChrysler
      AG and General Motors Corp., which are jointly
      working on hybrid technology, are expected to benefit from the bill.

      "Battery technology is definitely the most
      significant challenge to not only hybrids, but
      also fuel cell vehicles," said Nick Cappa,
      Chrysler's Advanced Technology spokesman.

      Biden's bill comes as Delaware's DaimlerChrysler
      plant in Newark builds pilot models of the
      company's first large-scale production hybrid vehicle, the Dodge Durango.

      The Newark plant, which builds the regular
      Durango and Chrysler Aspen, is to be closed in
      2009, largely because it produces SUVs that are
      not fuel-efficient. The plant employs about 2,100 people.

      "This legislation is important not only for the
      two auto plants in Delaware and the thousands of
      people who work there, but also for the future of
      the entire U.S. auto industry," said Sen. Tom
      Carper, D-Del., who co-sponsored the bill.

      The Biden bill also will devote resources to set
      a national standard for biodiesel and cleaner
      burning fuels like ethanol. It also would expand
      tax credits for consumers who purchase fuel-efficient diesel vehicles.

      Contact Luladey B. Tadesse at 324-2789 or ltadesse@...

      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer fkramer@...
      Founder California Cars Initiative
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