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Press Conference: Bush on PHEV Range; Sees Energy Bill Cooperation
Dec 21, 2006 (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 his press conference, the President indicated that he expected Democrats and Republicans to be able to cooperate on legislation to reduce dependency on foreign oil through use of non-petroleum fuels. This matches up well to what we heard last week when 38 Republican and Democratic Senators and Representatives, including Michigan's two Senators, joined in a letter supporting increased funding specifically for PHEVs­calcars-news/­612.html. And Set America Free, one of the main drivers of the Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act, soon to be re-introduced in both houses with expanded provisions for PHEVs, has it is confident the result will be legislation the President will sign.

When the President began talking about plug-in hybrids in early 2006, he repeatedly talked about driving 40 miles on electricity. That created some concern he was raising expectations too high for initial PHEVs. Officials in the U.S. Department of Energy have been talking about ranges around 20 miles, and in his press conference, he dialed back the range for the initial vehicles, while looking ahead to 40. (Recent national data about what's called "VMT" -- Vehicle Miles Travelled, as contrasted to individual commuting miles -- are not available. Statistics from over 10 years ago showed that the "sweet spot" for 50% of cars was around 20-25 miles/day.)

Press Conference by the President, December 20, 2006 (excerpts)­news/­releases/­2006/­12/­20061220-1.html

Next year marks a new start with a new Congress. In recent weeks I've had good meetings with the incoming leaders of Congress, including Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader-elect Harry Reid. We agreed that we've got important business to do on behalf of the American people and that we've got to work together to achieve results. The American people expect us to be good stewards of their tax dollars here in Washington. So we must work together to reduce the number of earmarks inserted into large spending bills, and reform the earmark process to make it more transparent and more accountable.

The American people expect us to keep America competitive in the world.So we must work to ensure our citizens have the skills they need for the jobs of the future, and encourage American businesses to invest in technology and innovation. The American people expect us to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and increase our use of alternative energy sources. So we must step up our research and investment in hydrogen fuel cells, hybrid plug-in and battery-powered cars, renewable fuels like ethanol and cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel, clean coal technology and clean sources of electricity like nuclear, solar and wind power.
I also spoke about energy in my opening remarks. In my judgment, we're going to have to get off oil as much as possible to remain a competitive economy. And I'm looking forward to working with Congress to do just that. I'm optimistic about some of the reports I've heard about new battery technologies that will be coming to the market that will enable people who -- people to drive the first 20 miles, for example, on electricity -- that will be the initial phase -- and then up to 40 miles on battery technologies. That will be positive, particularly if you live in a big city. A lot of people don't drive more than 20 miles, or 40 miles a day.And therefore, those urban dwellers who aren't driving that much won't be using any gasoline on a daily basis, and that will be helpful to the country.
In terms of energy, there's another area where I know we can work together. There is a consensus that we need to move forward with continued research on alternative forms of energy. I've just described them in my opening comments, and be glad to go over them again if you'd like, because they're positive, it's a positive development. We're making progress. And there's more to be done.

So I'm looking forward to working with them. There's a lot of attitude here that says, well, you lost the Congress, therefore, you're not going to get anything done; quite the contrary. I have an interest to get things done. And the Democrat leaders have an interest to get something done to show that they're worthy of their leadership roles. And it is that common ground that I'm confident we can get -- we can make positive progress, without either of us compromising principle.

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