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"This technology-neutral Open Fuel Standard is a key step to break the cycle of pain at the pump," says Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). Bartlett, along with a bipartisan group of House members led by Congressmen John Shimkus (R-IL), and including Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Steve Israel (D-NY), recently introduced the Open Fuel Standard (OFS) Act (HR 1687), which is intended to generate competition at the pump.

The OFS requires that 50 percent of automobiles made in 2014, 80 percent in 2016, and 95 percent in 2017, would be manufactured and warranted to operate on non-petroleum-based fuels. Alternative fuel options include existing technologies such as flex fuel, natural gas, hydrogen, biodiesel, plug-in electric and fuel cell, as well a catch-all category of "emerging fuels." Congressman Bartlett said in a statement:
The International Energy Agency (IEA) documented that worldwide conventional crude oil production peaked in 2006-2007. As a result, Americans face the prospect of repeated oil supply shocks and ruinous price spikes. This technology neutral Open Fuel Standard legislation will give Americans options they can choose to end their personal dependence and the strategic monopoly of oil for transportation.
Bartlett says that the cost of making vehicles flex-fuel capable is approximately $100 per and notes that, in Brazil, the ratio of flex-fuel capable vehicles went from zero to 70 percent in three years' time. While Bartlett's claims may indeed be accurate, he fails to mention that today, owners of most flex-fuel capable autos in the U.S. dispense nothing but gasoline into their vehicle's tank.

[Source: Bartlett - U.S. House of Representatives | Image: skidrd – C.C. License 2.0]
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Rep. Roscoe Bartlett Joins Bipartisan House Members to Introduce Open Fuel Standard Bill

"This technology neutral Open Fuel Standard (OFS) is a key step to break the cycle of pain at the pump."

Washington, May 3 - Congressman Roscoe Bartlett today joined a bipartisan group of House members led by Congressmen John Shimkus (R, Illinois-19) and including Eliot Engel (D, New York-17), and Steve Israel (D, New York-2) to introduce the Open Fuel Standard (OFS) Act (HR 1687), which is intended to bring fuel competition to the pump.

The OFS would require that 50 percent of new automobiles in 2014, 80 percent in 2016, and 95percent in 2017, would be warranted to operate on nonpetroleum fuels in addition to or instead of petroleum based fuels. Compliance possibilities include the full array of existing technologies – including flex fuel, natural gas, hydrogen, biodiesel, plug-in electric drive, and fuel cell – and a catch-all for new technologies. This requirement will then provide certainty to investors to produce alternative fuels and fueling stations to have a variety of pumps supplying those alternative fuels.

Congressman Bartlett said, "The International Energy Agency (IEA) documented that worldwide conventional crude oil production peaked in 2006-2007. As a result, Americans face the prospect of repeated oil supply shocks and ruinous price spikes. This technology neutral Open Fuel Standard legislation will give Americans options they can choose to end their personal dependence and the strategic monopoly of oil for transportation. That's why we have come together as Republicans and Democrats to support OFS as a key step to break the cycle of pain at the pump."

The Big Three automobile companies have in the past stated their willingness to make 50 percent of new vehicles flex fuel by 2012. The cost of doing so is about $100 per vehicle. In Brazil the ratio of flex fuel vehicles went from zero to 70 percent in just three years.


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  • 16 Comments
      lne937s
      • 3 Years Ago
      If they agree to eliminate the ethanol mandate and blending subsidies, then I would support this. Otherwise, this is enabling a massively distorted market that raises food prices and causes environmental damage to benefit agribusiness.
      SpeedyRacer
      • 3 Years Ago
      Automakers will choose the lowest cost option, which is E85 capability for about $100 per vehicle. Ethanol has half the energy content of gasoline so vehicles get half the mpg. It also takes about the same amount of energy to create ethanol as it can deliver -- zero sum gain. Therefore this is nothing more than another farm subsidy IMO. The cost, a paltry $1.3 Billion per year (based on 13M annual sales). It's easy to spend other peoples money.
      • 3 Years Ago
      OK, unless the bill also has provisions for the gas stations to also be required to carry alternative fuels, this won't do a damn bit of good. Just because the cars can run alternative fuels doesn't mean they are actually available to purchase. It's going to need incentives for fuel providers to actually carry alternative fuels, otherwise why would a Shell station (for instance) even want to have biodiesel or e85 at their pumps?
      harlanx6
      • 3 Years Ago
      If they are going to drastically interfere with market forces, I would rather they progressively restrict the importation of oil and other fuels, which would have a similar effect, but stimulate local production of fuels and alternate energy sources.
        xxxZOMBIExxx
        • 3 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        Any manipulation of market forces creates some sort of unintended consequences...but your idea is a HELL of a lot better than the one presented by the politicians in the article!....Personally I would like us look at all alternative fuels as well as bridge technologies such as BFS Blue Petroleum. It would be possible to eliminate oil needs from all non-North American sources if people actually put forth the effort.
        GoodCheer
        • 3 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        I would think those policies would eventually have the same effect, except that this way you (the vehicle owner) will have the option of finding less expensive fuels BEFORE the price of fuels increases, whereas if you increase the price of gas first, then automakers and fuel suppliers will have to play catch-up while you and I are stuck paying more for the only fuel we can use. Do you see if differently?
      mylexicon
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is a horrible bill. Overreaching with dozens of unintended consequences, I'm sure. The US has a problem with oil dependency and price volatility so they attempt to force manufacturers to make all vehicles flex-fuel capable? Do they have any idea how inefficient flex-fuel vehicles are when running on alt fuel? Biobutanol, ethanol, methanol, and all the other alcohol based fuels have much higher octane ratings so running them through an engine with 10:1 static and dynamic compression is a huge waste. Auto manufacturers have already found that alocohol-based fuels may work best at an octane enhancer for normal gasoline b/c they can turbocharge and maintain higher compression than current NA gasoline engines. Yet another crappy bill where politicians try to stimulate demand.
      Ratieya
      • 3 Years Ago
      There is reasonable logic in this bill but the fact that a vast majority of U.S. ethanol is made from distilled corn completely negates it. As it has been said before, using a food crop for personal transportation fuel is just plain stupid and the process by which the fuel is created offers no cost or carbon-related benefits. I even live around tons of E85 filling stations (Minnesota, home to 1/3 of the nation's E85 pumps) and drive a flex-fuel capable Ford Ranger, but I do not use it because all it really does is prop up industries for which there is no actual demand. If we can find a better way to make ethanol, I'd be willing to put up with a shorter driving range to use it. Maybe we should require cars to have the capability and just hope that ethanol becomes a useful product in the future.
      lne937s
      • 3 Years Ago
      Perhaps a better means to reach fuel price stability is to have a higher capital gains tax on commodity trades. The justification for low capital gains is investment in business helps businesses grow, helping the economy. On the other hand, commodities are really just speculation- they don't build anything or do anything. Commodity speculation leads to price instability, increased costs to manufacturers and consumers- hurting the economy rather than helping it. And it takes money away that potentially otherwise would be invested in companies that do or build things or go to buying things-- it takes money away from growing the economy. Commodity markets should be for people supplying and using commodities, not speculators. And currently speculators are paying a lower tax rate on the profits they make than most people working for for a living. Raise the tax on commodity speculation high enough to be a disincentive (35%+) and much of the price instability and recent price increases will go away, our economy will get stronger, and we will raise much-needed tax revenue in the process.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lne937s
        I think another way to tackle speculation would be to just extend the length of time you need to hold an investment before getting long term capital gain treatment. Say push it out to 3 years instead of the current 1 year holding time.
          lne937s
          • 3 Years Ago
          The only thing there is that, even though it can lead to volatility, speculative stock purchases lead to investments in emerging industries. The Internet you are looking at right now is largely the result of such investments. The problem is commodities. Whether it is oil futures bought one day and sold another or gold held onto for years, it raises prices for manufacturers and consumers, reduces investment in business, and reduces consumption. It hurts the economy, rather than helping it. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/06/business/economy/06commodities.html?_r=1&smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto
      xxxZOMBIExxx
      • 3 Years Ago
      I already do this this...without the government telling me that I have too. I switched to E85 in my daily driver/track car because premium is over 4.50 a gallon. I can run E85, get a higher octane, with a lower net cost to operate....but again this is only because premium is above 4.25 per gallon and I now have to fill up slightly more often.
        GoodCheer
        • 3 Years Ago
        @xxxZOMBIExxx
        "I already do this this...without the government telling me that I have too." You're an automaker who already makes 95% of your vehicles safe for use with multiple fuels? Cool. Or do you mean you're just a guy who's buying E85 and possibly dissolving gaskets and hoses in your fuel system because the per-mile price is cheaper while your car still runs?
          xxxZOMBIExxx
          • 3 Years Ago
          @GoodCheer
          Neither. I'm a sports car enthusiast that has modified his vehicle to operate on both standard fuel or E85. I have taken the time to change the few parts needed to safely run E85 and I have had my car tuned to do so. So now when gasoline goes above 4.20-4.25 per gallon I can plug in my laptop and re-flash my ECM to run E85. BTW, very few automakers use any rubber derived gaskets and seals anymore. Do your homework.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Mmmm, aldehyde emissions. I think mandating ethanol compatibility is smart though; so long as said compatibility will work for butanol and other fuels that we may or may not use in the near future.. I think the car is going the way of the dodo though.. as it requires mindblowing amounts of energy to operate.. and the world's population isn't getting any smaller.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The closest fuel station to me that pumps E85 is twenty miles away. And yet I still drive out there to fill up on American made, economy-boosting, OPEC-denying ethanol. When more stations are available, more people will purchase flex fuel vehicles and more of those who have them will fill up on ethanol. One of the expected outcomes of the Open Fuel Standard is to give fuel station owners the confidence they need to invest in alternative fuel pumps.
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