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For Immediate Release, May 14, 2007

Contact: Julie Teel, Center for Biological Diversity, (619) 255-3443

Bush Touts Proposal for New Federal Alternative-Fuel Standards That Would Actually Weaken Existing Law

WASHINGTON— In a Rose Garden appearance today, President Bush cynically portrayed his “20-in-10” alternative-fuel standard as improving current federal fuel-economy standards. In fact, the proposal is considerably weaker than current targets signed into law in 1992 by the first Bush president. 

“The president's policy is a retreat, not an advance. It would weaken existing federal targets for alternatives to petroleum fuel, not improve them,” said Julie Teel, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate, Air, and Energy Program. “This shameful ploy proves that the president still doesn’t understand the dire consequences of global warming.”

Reiterating the State of the Union address, today's speech will call for the replacement of 20 percent of U.S. gasoline consumption with alternative fuels by 2017 — hence "20 (percent) in 10 (years).” This is much weaker than current federal targets established by the Energy Policy Act of 1992 , which was developed in response to energy dependence issues raised by the first Persian Gulf War. The 1992 law mandated the replacement of 10 percent of petroleum motor-fuel consumption with alternative fuels by the year 2000 and 30 percent by 2010. To attain this goal, the law first required a replacement of 75 percent of federally owned vehicles with alternative-fuel vehicles by 1999. The Department of Energy was then required to determine if extension of the regulation to municipal and corporate fleets is necessary to meet the national 30-percent reduction target. If so, the Department is required to institute alternative-fuel standards for municipal and corporate fleets.

The federal government violated the Energy Policy Act by not converting its own fleets to alternative-fuel vehicles and failing to establish a municipal and corporate standard when it was clear that federal action alone was insufficient. The Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth sued over these violations, winning one court order in 2002 and two more in 2006 requiring compliance with both aspects of the law.

In response, the federal government has increased the number of fuel-efficient vehicles in its fleets. However, it has continued to refuse setting alternative-fuel vehicle requirements for municipal and corporate fleets. Instead, on March 15, 2007, it issued a ruling that delayed the compliance date for a 30-percent reduction from 2010 to 2030. The rule is vigorously opposed by environmental groups and will likely be challenged in court.

“The time for political games and pandering to opponents of meaningful alternative-fuel requirements and greenhouse gas emissions caps is over," said Teel. “Climate science shows that emissions must be reduced by 80 percent or more in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Reducing gasoline use is part of the solution, but to safeguard our children's future, we need rapid progress toward that goal, not a delay of 20 years.”

Information on the Energy Policy Act and the Bush government’s refusal to implement it: http://www.biologicaldiversity .org/swcbd/programs/policy/energy/EPAct.html.

Information on the Bush government’s decision to delay Energy Policy Act goals by 20 years: http://www.biologicaldiversity .org/swcbd/press/energy-policy-09-07-2006.html.

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