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Biden: Another Supporter of Plug-In Cars (and Amtrak)
Aug 23, 2008 (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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The choice of Sen. Joe Biden as Sen. Barack Obama's running mate brings another strong advocate of progressive policies on energy and transportation to the campaign and it may further heat up the Obama-McCain race for the best policies on plug-in cars. Biden supports expansion of renewable fuels, strong legislation on climate change -- and last year he authored legislation to fund advanced battery development for plug-in hybrids.

At the Springfield, IL announcement, we also heard the story of how Biden decided to take the train from Washington to Wilmington -- 90 minutes each way every day -- when he arrived in the Senate thirty-five years ago. After his wife and daughter died in a car crash, he chose not to move to Washington but to raise his two sons in Delaware. Now one of those grown-up sons is on Amtrak's Board of Directors, and Sen. Biden still takes that train every day and is a strong supporter of public transportation.

We mention this because we can't forget that electrification of transportation is only one key part of the broad transition we're beginning. In response to our posting yesterday about Pickens and using natural gas for cars, Mark Wiener, a CalCars-News subscriber, responded, "with respect to CO2, putting more goods on trains instead of trucks and encouraging residential, solar water heaters is hardly ever mentioned. But these are potent methods of reducing CO2 and they are economical for the end user." The U.S. differs from almost every other industrial country in shipping most goods by truck instead of by train. As we talk enthusiastically about plug-in cars, conservation, mass transit, and "smart growth" to reduce vehicle miles travelled are even more effective solutions!

Below are a Detroit News report on Biden's selection, excerpts from his positions on plug-in cars from his Senate re-election campaign website and his Senate website, and details of his legislation on batteries. And look for a second posting with more about plug-in cars at the Denver Convention.

Biden little known in Michigan, but is friend of automakers Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau Saturday, August 23, 2008­apps/­pbcs.dll/­article?AID=/­20080823/­METRO/­808230408

Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware is little-known to Michigan voters: Detroit News polling firm EPIC-MRA last asked about Michigan voters' attitudes toward him, in May of last year, 39 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they had not heard of him; the number is almost certainly higher for the full electorate.

But Biden's legislative record includes a lot of work on Michigan's signature industry: autos. He was intensely involved in Delaware's unsuccessful attempts to keep Chrysler's Newark, Del., assembly plant open. Last year, he authored a bill calling for a five-year, $500 million boost for research on lithium-ion batteries, the crucial technology for making plug-in hybrid electric vehicles practical.

In an opinion piece that appeared in Wilmington News Journal, his state's largest paper, in the wake of the Newark plant decision, Biden and Rep. Mike Castle wrote, "We must do whatever it takes to help our domestic auto manufacturers remain competitive."

Though Biden, like most Democrats, generally has favored higher federal fuel economy standards, "he has always been there for us on auto issues" said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing.

Biden grew up in working-class Scranton, Pa., and he could improve the Democratic ticket's appeal to white working-class voters and help solidify support with organized labor. And he is Roman Catholic; Catholics make up between one-quarter and one-third of the Michigan electorate, and are a constituency Obama sometimes struggled to win during the primaries.

FROM 4BIDEN.COM (Senate re-election site): Super efficient technologies:

There are now superefficient plug-in hybrids which can get 100 miles to the gallon, powered by lithium ion batteries. These hybrids are dominated by foreign competitors from Japan, Korea and China. These countries have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing and supporting the new technologies. Joe Biden believes that America needs to make an equal investment in new technology. He has proposed legislation that would double our investment in the development of batteries needed for hybrid electric vehicles.­news/­energy-environment/­

FROM BIDEN'S OFFICIAL SENATE WEBSITE:­issues/­issue/­?id=0cc59be1-a50d-4e0f-952e-57931f6e4d62 "There is no question our oil dependence is threatening our national security. It helps fuel the fundamentalism we’re fighting. Our oil dependence limits our options and our influence around the world, because oil rich countries pursuing policies we oppose can stand up to us, while oil dependent allies may be afraid to stand with us. If we don’t change our policy, oil will further empower the countries that produce it, restrict our options, and undermine our economic and physical security. Where we can have the most impact is stopping our demand for oil from increasing as our economy grows. We know where to start: expand alternative fuels and improve vehicle efficiency. We can do this. We can absolutely do this."


Senator Biden believes that in the near term, our energy policy should focus on energy security ­ which we can start to strengthen right now by reducing our own oil consumption and focusing our attention on significant investment in renewable sources of energy. He would:


INCREASE FUEL EFFICIENCY OF VEHICLES: Raise Fuel Economy Standards By 1 Mile Per Gallon More Each Year: Senator Biden was pleased that in 2007, for the first time since 1979, Congress passed a provision that restructured the automotive fuel economy program and raised standards. Senator Biden believed that the provision should have gone further, by upgrading to a better system that combines protection for U.S. automobile manufacturing jobs with predictable increases in fuel efficiency standards for cars, SUVs and light trucks. The new system would set fuel economy standards based on the attributes of a vehicle (such as its size and weight), with individualized fuel economy targets that increase by 4 percent per year (or approximately 1 mile per gallon each year) reaching a 40 mpg average by 2017 which will save approximately the amount of oil we import from Saudi Arabia.

Invest in New Super-Efficient Technology: The market for lithium ion batteries ­ those needed for super-efficient plug-in hybrids which can get 100 mpg ­ is dominated by foreign competitors like the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese. That is because these countries have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing and supporting the technology. Senator Biden believes the United States needs to make an equal investment in new technology like lithium ion batteries. He has proposed legislation that would double investment in the development of advanced lithium ion batteries needed for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles ­ increasing it from $42 million to $100 million a year for five years.

SENATOR BIDEN'S REMARKS on introducing the "American Automobile Industry Promotion Act of 2007" (S.1055)­congress/­record.xpd? [...] Elementm26m0m0m

Sen. Joseph Biden [D-DE]: [Introducing S. 1055] Mr. President, today I am introducing The American Automobile Industry Promotion Act of 2007 to jump-start next generation battery technology development in the United States and extend incentives to American-made highly efficient vehicles.

This legislation authorizes $100 million a year for 5 years to advance new battery technology--an amount double the administration's current budget request. On a national and international level, we must do whatever it takes to help our domestic auto manufacturers remain competitive.

Right now, the Japanese dominate the market for lithium ion batteries because they invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing this technology and in supporting their domestic industry. And, the Koreans and the Chinese are not far behind. American auto manufacturers are playing catch-up and we need to move quickly.

Specifically, I am proposing to support the development of advanced electric components, systems and vehicles, by providing funds for battery research to national laboratories, small businesses, and institutes of higher learning. The bill will also establish, through a competitive selection process, an Industry Alliance of private, U.S. based, for-profit firms whose primary business is battery development. The Industry Alliance would be an advisory resource on short and long term battery technology development.

The new research initiative will have four major areas of focus: (1) Research and Development including battery technology, high-efficiency charging systems, high-powered drive-train systems, control systems and power train development, and nanomaterial technology for battery and fuel cell systems. (2) Demonstration. The initiative also creates a demonstration program which would devote resources toward demonstration, testing and evaluation of hybrid electric vehicles for many different applications including military, mass market passenger and SUV vehicles. (3) Education. The initiative will support curriculum development in secondary, high school, as well as higher education institutions that focus on electric drive systems and component engineering. (4) Testing. Finally, the initiative would work with the EPA to develop testing and certification procedures for criteria pollutants, fuel economy, and petroleum use in vehicles.

In addition to research and development for the lithium ion battery, the American Automobile Industry Promotion Act will also set a national standard for biodiesel, a cleaner-burning fuel made from natural and renewable sources; and expand tax credit eligibility for consumers who purchase more fuel-efficient diesel vehicles. Today's diesels are cleaner than their predecessors, are in compliance with EPA emissions standards, and are 30 percent more fuel efficient than an equivalent gasoline engine. Specifically, the bill expands the emissions requirements to qualify for a tax credit for various weight diesel vehicles, increasing the number of American-manufactured more fuel efficient diesel vehicles that qualify. This provision would expire in four years, at which time all highly efficient vehicles will have to meet higher emissions standards to qualify for the tax credit.

Now is the time to act. It's not too late, but we do not have the luxury of waiting. If we are ever to be truly competitive in the global auto market and free from our dependence on foreign oil, we must move forward on all fronts.

I ask unanimous consent that the text of the legislation be printed in the Record.

EESI LEGISLATIVE REPORT: Biden Pushes Plug-Ins in New Legislation­publications/­Newsletters/­CleanMotion/­CM_April07.htm#Biden

Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) recently joined a growing list of policymakers in support of plug-in hybrids with the introduction of legislation to significantly increase the nation's investment in the development of advanced lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. The “American Automobile Industry Promotion Act of 2007” (S.1055) authorizes $100 million per year for five years to advance relevant technologies. This amount is double the Administration’s current budget request for battery and advanced vehicle component research and development.
Currently, the United States lacks capacity to manufacture advanced batteries for hybrids and sources its batteries from foreign markets. Domestic automakers and policymakers alike have called for an accelerated effort to develop domestic manufacturing capacity for advanced batteries. Senator Biden, who hails from Delaware, a major auto manufacturing state, believes the U.S. must assist domestic automakers in staying competitive with international lithium ion battery research and development. His bill would specifically support the development of advanced electronic components, systems and vehicles by providing funds for battery research to national laboratories, academic institutions and small businesses.

To view the Biden plug-in bill, please visit: (Type S.1055 as the bill number)

Biden bill pays for battery research
Lithium ion technology would improve hybrid cars
By LULADEY B. TADESSE March 30, 2007­apps/­pbcs.dll/­article?AID=/­20070330/­BUSINESS/­703300335/­1006/­NEWS

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., introduced legislation Thursday that would boost federal investment in the development of lithium ion batteries that he says is critical for producing the next generation of hybrid vehicles.

Biden's bill, called "The American Automobile Industry Promotion Act of 2007," would provide $100 million a year for five years toward research and development of battery technology. The funds would go toward battery research at national laboratories, small businesses and educational institutions.

Supporters say lithium ion battery research is a key to the development of advanced hybrid technology such as plug-in hybrid cars. Unlike gas-electric hybrids like the Toyota Prius, plug-in hybrids use electric power and travel extended ranges without using gasoline. But the development of plug-in cars is stunted because more research is needed in lithium ion batteries, Biden said. Such batteries are expensive and there are very few manufacturers in the United States.

"Right now, the Japanese dominate the market for lithium ion batteries because they invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing this technology and in supporting their domestic industry. ... American auto manufacturers are playing catch-up and we need to move quickly," Biden said.

Automakers in Delaware, including DaimlerChrysler AG and General Motors Corp., which are jointly working on hybrid technology, are expected to benefit from the bill.

"Battery technology is definitely the most significant challenge to not only hybrids, but also fuel cell vehicles," said Nick Cappa, Chrysler's Advanced Technology spokesman.

Biden's bill comes as Delaware's DaimlerChrysler plant in Newark builds pilot models of the company's first large-scale production hybrid vehicle, the Dodge Durango.

The Newark plant, which builds the regular Durango and Chrysler Aspen, is to be closed in 2009, largely because it produces SUVs that are not fuel-efficient. The plant employs about 2,100 people.

"This legislation is important not only for the two auto plants in Delaware and the thousands of people who work there, but also for the future of the entire U.S. auto industry," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., who co-sponsored the bill.

The Biden bill also will devote resources to set a national standard for biodiesel and cleaner burning fuels like ethanol. It also would expand tax credits for consumers who purchase fuel-efficient diesel vehicles.

Contact Luladey B. Tadesse at 324-2789 or ltadesse@...

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