WASHINGTON - House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer made the following statement on the House Floor today regarding H.R. 5611, the Fuel Consumption Education Act, and the energy independence bill that he unveiled yesterday with other leading Democrats, the PROGRESS Act. (As prepared for delivery.)
"Mr. Speaker, I think this bill – the Fuel Conservation Education Act – is an appropriate piece of legislation, and I will support it. This bill calls for a public education campaign by the Department of Energy and industry groups to provide U.S. motorists with information about measures that they may take to conserve fuel.
"Many of the measures – from observing speed limits to keeping tires properly inflated – are already well-known. And, I believe that even the co-sponsors of this bill acknowledge that it is no substitute for a real, pro-active energy policy that seeks to wean our nation from its dependence on foreign oil. Thus today, I want to call the members’ attention to legislation that seeks to do precisely that – the Program for Real Energy Security, or the 'PROGRESS Act.'
"I unveiled this proposal yesterday along with the Dean of the House, Congressman Dingell; the Ranking Democrat on the Transportation Committee, Congressman Oberstar; and Congressmen Udall, Herseth, Holt, Blumenauer and Schiff. In short, the PROGRESS Act seeks to initiate a robust national program – akin to the Manhattan Project – on energy independence.
"The PROGRESS Act would establish a National Energy Security Commission, bringing together government, industry and academic leaders to develop consensus national goals on energy – which Congress must act upon under expedited rules. It would establish a New Manhattan Center for High Efficiency Vehicles, seeking to double the current average vehicle efficiency and to diversify fuel types. It would establish a National Biofuels Infrastructure Development Program, establishing a grant program to encourage the private sector to invest in wholesale and retail biofuel pumps, tanks and related distribution equipment. It calls for a stimulus package to upgrade the “pipeline” for biofuels – the freight rail system – while also providing grants to promote conservation alternatives such as public transit and commuter rail. And, it would increase the use of alternative fuels in federal fleets.
"Mr. Speaker, I urge the members to review this Program for Real Energy Security, which will be introduced tomorrow. Energy independence is inextricably linked to our national security, our economic security and our environmental security. We must act now. We must think big. This is the time to summon and focus the unique American will and ingenuity to achieve real energy independence."