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For Immediate Release: January 25, 2007

Contacts: Danielle Fugere, Friends of the Earth, (415) 544-0790 x15
Julie Teel, Center for Biological Diversity, (619) 990-2999
Jay Tutchton, University of Denver Environmental Law Clinic, (303) 871-6034

State of the Union Highlights Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles

Groups Petition Department of Energy to Create Plug-in Car Market to Combat Global Warming

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.– Reducing energy use to slow global warming is at the top of the nation’s agenda and played a role in President Bush’s State of the Union address Tuesday. Bush included plug-in vehicles in his speech, saying, “We need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles.” Because emissions from vehicles sold in the United States account for one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, creating a market for alternative-fuel cars is a crucial part of any plan to curb global warming.

On January 18, 2007, Friends of the Earth and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Department of Energy (DOE) to allow federal and state agencies to purchase plug-in hybrid electric cars and count them as alternative-fuel vehicles under the Energy Policy Act—a move that would create an instant market for the green cars. The fuel efficiency of plug-in hybrids can be dramatic, with the potential to achieve nearly 100 miles per gallon equivalent while reducing emissions and saving consumers money. Plug-ins come equipped with batteries that can be charged at night with cheap, domestically produced electricity, allowing all-electric driving in ranges of 20 to 60 miles. The only infrastructure needed is a standard power cord that plugs into existing electrical outlets. Plug-ins can be run on gas for longer trips.

“Granting this petition should be a given,” said Danielle Fugere, Regional Program Director with Friends of the Earth. “The Administration’s response will demonstrate whether President Bush is committed to bringing plug-in hybrids to market.” To date, Bush’s actions have not matched his rhetoric. In an executive order issued this week, federal fleets are required to purchase some amount of plug-in hybrids when they become commercially available at a reasonably comparable cost. The Energy Policy Act has no such hurdles. To the contrary, its purchasing requirements are supposed to jumpstart a commercial market for alternative fuel vehicles—not wait until they happen on their own. Agencies ready and willing to support plug-in hybrids today should be given credit under the Act.

“President Bush’s commitment to quickly reducing U.S. oil use by supporting plug-in hybrids and other alternative technologies is in serious question,” said Julie Teel, staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Program. “His announcement of so-called new petroleum-replacement goals that actually weaken existing law makes it clear that so far he has only paid lip service to greener energy. But the global warming crisis demands a lot more than lip service.” President Bush proposed Tuesday to replace 20 percent of U.S. gasoline consumption with alternative fuels by 2017, but the Energy Policy Act of 1992, signed into law by his father, George Bush Sr., currently requires a replacement of 10 percent of the U.S. petroleum motor-fuel consumption with alternative fuels by the year 2000 and 30 percent by 2010. The current president’s “new” initiative is in truth a step backward.

In fact, on September 7, 2006, the Department of Energy issued a proposal to weaken the national fuel-replacement standards by extending the compliance date for a 30-percent reduction in U.S. petroleum-fuel consumption from 2010 to 2030. The proposal also declined to count the contribution of plug-in hybrid electric cars to support keeping a stronger goal in place. This proposal is not yet final and has been vigorously opposed by environmental groups.

“If the President really wants to support plug-in hybrid vehicles, as he keeps assuring us, he needs to instruct the Department of Energy to grant our petition right away,” said Jay Tutchton, director of the University of Denver Environmental Law Clinic and author of the plug-in hybrid petition. “That would be the most effective single step he could take to turn his rhetoric into reality.”

For a copy of the petition visit or

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 32,000 members dedicated to the protection of imperiled species and habitat.

Friends of the Earth is a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization with 30,000 members across the nation whose mission is to defend the environment and ensure a healthy and just world.

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