Congressman Eliot Engel’s (D-NY-16) amendment requiring the use of alternative fuel vehicles by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was adopted in the FY 2014 Homeland Security Appropriations bill.  Earlier in the week, the same amendment was included in the Military Construction/VA Appropriations bill. 

Rep. Engel said, “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.  I intend to introduce this amendment into all spending bills.  Each federal agency possesses a fleet of vehicles to which this could be applied.  These amendments serve as further encouragement for the federal government to meet the requirements mandated in the President’s Memorandum.”

Rep. Engel is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  The Open Fuel Standard Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Engel in the last couple of Congresses, is expected to be re-introduced later this month.  The bill would require 30 percent of new automobiles in 2015, 50 percent in 2016, and 50 percent in each subsequent year, 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, 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 over 660,000 vehicles with approximately 55,000subject to this amendment.  This is the tenth time in the last three years that Rep. Engel’s Open Fuel Amendment has been accepted into an appropriations bill.

The amendment codifies the Presidential Memorandum on Federal Fleet Performance issued in 2011 by President Barack Obama, which requires all new light duty vehicles in the federal fleet to be alternate fuel vehicles, such as hybrid, electric, natural gas, methanol, ethanol, or biofuel, by December 31, 2015.