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WASHINGTON, DC – Leading House Democrats, including Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD), Rep. John Dingell (MI), Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Democrat, Rep. Jim Oberstar, Transportation Committee Ranking Democrat, Rep. Mark Udall (CO), co-chair of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, Rep. Stephanie Herseth (SD), co-chair of the House Democratic Rural Working Group and member of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, member of the House Transportation Committee and Task Force on Livable Communities, and Rep. Adam Schiff, member of the House International Relations Committee and co-chair/co-founder of the Democratic Study Group on National Security, released the following statements today after unveiling a comprehensive energy independence bill entitled the “PROGRESS Act.”
“The issue of energy independence is too important to our children’s future and our nation’s future to sit idly by,” Whip Hoyer said. “That is why Democrats, in our continuing commitment to energy independence, have proposed the PROGRESS Act today. This bill is vital to our economic and national security, and to keeping America strong and secure into the future. Democrats are leading America in a new direction, and that includes making our country energy independent. ”
“Mr. Hoyer has done a service to the country by offering a solid plan that will get America on track toward achieving energy independence,” said Rep. Dingell. “Millions of vehicles already on the road are capable of operating on alternative fuels such as E-85. His proposal would give consumers the opportunity to use these fuels by ensuring they are readily available.”
“This bill will help save fuel by encouraging the greater use of alternative, fuel-efficient modes of transportation,” Rep. Oberstar added. “It provides incentives for commuters to use mass transit, passenger rail, even bicycles. It also provides increased federal aid for the development of transit and passenger rail services.”
The PROGRESS Act has five major components:
• Establishing a National Energy Security Commission that would bring together government, industry and academic leaders to develop national goals that respect regional energy solutions and develop recommendations that Congress would have to act upon under expedited rules.
• Establishing a New Manhattan Center for High Efficiency Vehicles that would create an advanced vehicle efficiency consortium and commit a minimum of $500 million a year for ten years to federal alternative fuels and vehicle technology programs in the federal government.
• Establishing a National Biofuels Infrastructure Development Program that would reimburse private sector partners to share the costs of investing in the wholesale and retail biofuels pumps, tanks, and other related distribution equipment.
• Promoting Transit Use & Developing a Rail Infrastructure Program that would create a stimulus package of infrastructure investment that upgrades the pipeline for biofuels – the freight rail system – in order to get an affordable and reliable supply of biofuels to market.
• Ensuring Federal Government Leadership in the Use of the Alternatives to Oil by increasing the use of alternative fuels in federal and state fleets, developing biofuel plants in every region of the country, and speeding development of standards that are needed to promote alternative fuels use.
“The PROGRESS Act puts our energy security front and center, and with gas prices at an all-time high, I believe it’s critical that Congress pass this legislation. I'm pleased that the bill includes provisions that were part of the Hoyer/Udall amendment to the Defense Authorization Act promoting alternative fuels in the military. We can’t kick our dependence on foreign oil overnight, but we can – and must – build support behind sensible approaches to reduce foreign oil consumption through the development of alternative fuels, better vehicle efficiency, and public transit systems,” said Rep. Udall.
Rep. Herseth said, “I’m proud to support common sense legislation like the PROGRESS Act because we need to invest in homegrown sources of energy. Renewable biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel are not only a key way to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and strengthen our national security, but they represent an investment in the future of rural America. As patriotic Americans, we can be part of the solution to one of the biggest problems facing our country by making ourselves energy independent, and in the process, we can create new jobs and preserve our way of life in rural America.”
Rep. Blumenauer said, “Alternative fuels are an important step towards reducing our dependence on oil. But the best way to reduce our consumption of foreign oil and to save energy is provide choices for how we move around. Providing transportation networks that give families the option to take a train, bus, bike, or even to walk on their commute or daily errands is fiscally responsible, environmentally friendly, and will improve quality of life.”
“We as a nation need to commit ourselves to achieving energy security in the 21st Century and the PROGRESS Act is our road map toward meeting this critically important goal,” Rep. Schiff added. “Developing cleaner sources of energy and encouraging energy efficiency and conservation are crucial to the U.S. economy and to our national security and must be among our top priorities.”
The PROGRESS Act is designed to complement the Democrats’ Innovation Agenda, which details Democrats’ commitment to keeping America as the most competitive and innovative nation in the world and the House Democratic Rural Working Group’s biofuels plan, Energizing America.