Washington, DC -- Congressman Eliot Engel’s (D-NY-17) amendment was adopted into the FY 2012 Department of Defense Appropriations bill, requiring the mandatory use of alternative fuel vehicles by the Department of Defense.  The amendment codifies the Presidential Memorandum on Federal Fleet Performance issued last week by President Barack Obama.  The Memorandum would require all new light duty vehicles in the federal fleet to be alternate fuel vehicles, such as hybrid, electric, natural gas, or biofuel, by December 31, 2015. 

To view Rep. Engel’s comments from the House floor –

Rep. Engel said, “In past years I have introduced similar legislation to require an Open Fuel Standard.  Our economy and our national security are threatened by our dependence on foreign oil. An Open Fuel Standard will help us to get off our oil addiction.  This now the third appropriations bill where my amendment was successfully adopted – it was previously accepted into the Agriculture and Homeland Security bills – and I intend to introduce it into all of the remaining spending bills this year.  Each federal agency possesses a fleet of vehicles to which this could be applied.”

Rep. Engel is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  The Open Fuel Standard Act (H.R. 1687), co-sponsored by Rep. Engel, and introduced with Republican sponsor Rep. Shimkus (R-Ill.), would require 50 percent of new automobiles in 2014, 80 percent in 2016, and 95 percent in 2017, to be warranted to operate on nonpetroleum fuels in addition to or instead of petroleum based fuels.

“Our transportation sector is by far the biggest reason we send $600 billion per year to hostile nations – from Iran to Venezuela, and others – to pay for oil at ever-increasing prices.  America does not need to be beholden to foreign nations for transportation fuel.  Alternative technologies exist today, and if implemented broadly will allow any alternative fuel to be used in our fleet. This will encourage the development of domestic energy resources, and the industry and jobs that will come along with these alternative sources. It is a win-win situation – bolster our own economy and domestic employment opportunities while ceasing to funnel billions of dollars needlessly to other countries,” said Rep. Engel.

According to the General Services Administration (GSA), the Federal Government operates the largest fleet of light duty vehicles in America.  The GSA counts over 660,000 vehicles in the entire fleet, with over 197,000 belonging to the Department of Defense.  So far, a total of 297,000 vehicles would be subject to Rep. Engel’s amendment.