Bolder Move Needed to Reduce Addiction to Oil — Try PHEVs Now

Reply to State of the Union

Contact: Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Steve Marshall

The President needs a sequel to his State of the Union address on energy issues. Although he set a goal to reduce the use of gasoline by 20% in ten years, he can do more and do it faster.

What is needed is an Executive Order to jumpstart a technology that would dramatically reduce our gasoline use — Plug-in Electric Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs) that get over 100 miles per gallon. PHEVs can produce more reduction of gasoline use faster than any of the other technologies the President mentioned. (Note: Discovery Institute gets no funding from any auto company or electric utility.)

Just as the federal government created a stable market for the mass production of corn-based ethanol fuel to replace gasoline, the President can issue an Executive Order that would create a stable market for the mass production of plug-in hybrid vehicles through federal fleet replacement vehicle purchases.

General Motors has estimated that for 78 percent of commuters in the United States whose daily trip to work is 40 miles or less, its proposed Chevy Volt plug-in car would make the commute using only the battery “without burning a drop of petroleum.” This month GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler told the White House that they need a stable market for PHEVs to be able to mass produce enough to lower costs for consumers. An Executive Order would create that market, by promising purchases by the General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Postal Service. The federal government purchases over 100,000 vehicles a year.

It is appropriate for the federal government to provide initial stimulus for a technology that would dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, strengthen national energy security and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Our dependence on foreign oil is a national security as well as an economic and environmental issue.

The President should have presented a specific plan of action – not just research – in his State of the Union address to accelerate the day when flexible-fuel, plug-in, electric hybrid vehicles roll off assembly lines in the United States. He can still do so in his remaining months in office, and he can start with an Executive Order.

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