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Program & Policy Advances in U.S. and Internationally on Plug-In Vehicles
Jul 22, 2010 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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In this third posting on a single day, we report on the latest news: major advances in Congress for the Electrification Coalition's proposals; automakers and utilities ask the White House for a strong focus and more coordination; nations coordinate their electrification strategies; the Department of Energy summarizes the results of stimulus financing programs; China announces large plug-in subsidies; the controversy over "stealthy" plug-in cars; some tributes to climate change pioneer Stephen Schneider; California's cleantech industry starts to defend itself; and Joseph Romm's recent talk in San Francisco.

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR ELECTRIFICATION LEGISLATION: Demonstrating how plug-in vehicles continue to gain support from multiple consstituencies, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee voted 19-4 for the Promoting Electric Vehicles Act of 2010. Voting in favor of the $6B measure were Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Richard Burr (R-NC), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Bob Corker (R-TN), Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), James E. Risch (R-ID), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Insiders expect this package to be a contender for inclusion in any energy or climate legislation "deal" in Congress in the next few weeks.

The legislation was based on the EV Deployment Act developed by the Electrification Coalition. See EC President Robbie Diamond's statement at­news-releases/­ec-applauds-energy-committee-for-bipartisan-passage-of-electrification-legislation-98928404.html . As reported by John O'Dell, the Senate bill was modified to expand the number of eligible "deployment communities" after three years.­greencaradvisor/­2010/­07/­key-ev-development-measures-win-senate-panel-backing.html .

See an in-depth analysis at­electric-vehicle-legislation-gets-interesting-dc-many-bills-many-options-no-certainty-49749.html . And see analyses by Deron Lovaas, Federal Transportation Policy Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, summarizing current Senate initiatives, including the EC plan at­blogs/­dlovaas/­countering_the_oil_curse_senat.html . Lovaas endorses another bill, the Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act, which includes much of the EC plan, all of which has the goal of reducing oil use by 40% by 2030. (That's a worthy goal, but not one that will get us the reductions we need in the next 10 years. CalCars has been "evangelizing" Big Fix and Drive Star, to cut oil in half in ten years by converting gas-guzzlers in addition to new plug-in vehicle production, to people at NRDC as well as in Congress and to the advocates at the Electrification Coalition.)

BUSINESS GROUPS CALL FOR NATIONAL ELECTRIC FUEL TASK FORCE: The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the Electric Drive Transportation Association and the Edison Electric Institute have asked the White House to step up the pace of vehicle electrification with an interagency working group plus a task force that "would include federal and state regulators, standards organizations, utilities, environmental groups, consumer groups and electric drive industry stakeholders." See press release and letter at­2010/­07/­20/­business-groups-ask-president-obama-to-set-up-electric-vehicle-t/ . This news also made it into Politico's "Morning Energy" report­morningenergy/­0710/­morningenergy41.html -- you can get this very useful roundup delivered by email daily.

ELECTRIFICATION PROGRAMS: The eight-page report on Recovery Act-funded projects at­files/­documents/­Battery-and-Electric-Vehicle-Report-FINAL.pdf includes charts and graphs projecting rapid declines in battery costs, increases in lifetimes, and lower weight for batteries for both PHEVs and EVs. See summary at­article.cfm?storyid=1892 and analysis at­USA/­2010/­0715/­Why-Obama-is-putting-so-much-stock-in-battery-technology .

MEETING: Government ministers from China, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States announced a program to get 20 million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2020. (Much as we are pleased, and this nine-country initiative doesn't include many other national efforts, if we have two billion vehicles by then, that admirable target will be 1% of the total fleet.) See­2010/­07/­electric-vehicle-initiative-launched-at-clean-energy-ministerial-in-washington-dc.html including a link to the announcement, which includes Smart Grid and other related programs.

CHINESE SUBSIDIES FOR PHEVS: In May, the central government announced a maximum subsidy of 50,000 yuan ($7,386) for PHEVs, and in July, Shenzhen's city government added another 30,000 to that amount (more in both cases for EVs).­newsc.asp?id=6992

UNUSUAL SUSPECTS TALKING ABOUT PLUG-IN CARS: Also at Politico, you may be surprised at the comments from an especially diverse group of people­arena/­archive/­electric-cars-key-to-energy-independence.html

NOISE IN PLUG-IN CARS: A great selling point for plug-in vehicles is that they almost silent compared to combustion-engine vehicles (both make tire noise, of course). The first ad for the Chevy Volt is quiet­watch?v=4-m0J-SFavM , as was the June ad from Electrification Coalition­news.php .) Pedestrian/bicyclist safety concerns have led to a federal study completed in September 2009:­Pubs/­811204.PDF and to proposed legislation­documents/­20100526/­HR5381.Amendment.Stearns.pdf . Chelsea Sexton discusses the issue, including commenting on the study and legislation (followed by many comments), in "We're losing sight of reason in the debate over adding sounds to electric vehicles."­2010/­06/­23/­chelsea-sexton-were-losing-sight-of-reason-in-the-debate-over/ . We agree with her approach of deferring any regulatory requirements until we have more data and experience (that's what the European Union is doing), and would favor a driver-controlled system especially when driving forward. To hear possible sounds, see a 2:18 video for the Volt at­index.php/­Volt/­stop-look-listen.html and 36 seconds for the LEAF at­watch?v=ihoXaHqpbpg&feature=related

OVERVIEW ON INFRASTRUCTURE & CHARGING: A thoughtful exploration in Public Utilities Fortnightly­news.cfm?newsid=23641

REMEMBERING STEPHEN SCHNEIDER: We note with great sadness the death of climatologist Stephen Schneider of Stanford University. His work over four decades ranged from original scientific research to combating the global disinformation campaign on global warming. You can see his sense of humor in the photo of him two years ago with a plug-in hybrid at­photos-people.html#SS3 . We invite you to take a few minutes to commemorate this giant and watch and learn from him:

  • A few days before his death he presented a first-of-its kind study that affirms the broad scientific agreement on climate change by scientists and compares their expertise to those of unconvinced researchers. See an extended transcript and a 9:18 minute video at­2010/­07/­19/­stephen-schneider-obituary/ .
  • From the young scientist, in what's captioned "one of the earliest, strongest, and most consistent voices on Climate Change -- Stephen Schneider sounded a strikingly prescient alarm in 1979."­watch?v=pB2ugPM0cRM (1:54)
  • His 2009 wise, stirring, hard-hitting, narrative with slides about how to think about climate tipping points and risk asks, "do you love your children more than your grandchildren?" at­watch?v=ZDSWpJeQ6Ns (4:38)

See Schneider's home page for his biography, books and blog­index.html. Obituaries and memorials:

DEFENDING CALIFORNIA'S GLOBAL WARMING SOLUTIONS ACT: Facing what could be a $50 million oil-industry-funded attack, national advocates for climate change policies are rallying to defeat an initiative to stop AB32 from going into effect next year. They recognize that if this derailment effort succeeds in California, the prospects for national legislation will be seriously damaged. See the supporters list at­our-coalition.php and many links from that site. Also see The California Bright Spot . It's sponsored by the California Business Alliance for a Green Economy as an information hub to highlight good news about the latest investments in clean energy companies and the growth of the green economy.

HEAR CLIMATE PROGRESS'S JOSEPH ROMM: We've never heard him more focused and insightful than he was at the Commonwealth Club's ClimateOne event earlier this week. With excellent questions by Greg Dalton and the audience, Romm says climate change is "the transcendental issue of our tim; it will overwhelm all other issues by the end of the 2020s." He discusses advocates "catastrophic failure of messaging," and sees a need to "transform politics" so there's a "political cost to destroying the climate." (He also praises PHEVs as a key "enabling technology.") the 66-minute event, "After BP: Climate Progress?" will be viewable in a few months, but is already available as a podcast at iTunes, and will soon be available at­archive/ . Right now at that site, you can download author Eric Pooley's talk on "America's Climate War," commended by Romm for writing a book about "the media story of the century" -- "the single most effective disinformation campaign in history, which will be vilified for centuries."

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