Dept. of Energy Hints at Rolling Back Goals

This year, the Bush administration and Congress have talked about ways to reduce the nation's dependence on imported oil. They've called for legislation to encourage manufacturers and car buyers to switch to alternative fuels like ethanol. But there's already a law on the books — and it may be rolled back soon.

The 1992 energy bill set an ambitious goal for alternative fuel use in America: By 2010, 30 percent of all motor fuel used would be alternative. With that date racing toward us, it look like that ambitious goal will be erased from the books.

Tuesday, the DOE proposed a new rule to extend that deadline by 20 years — to 2030. That's the new goal, according to Dana O'Hara, of the Energy Department. He says to comply with the original timetable, the United States would, in the next three years, have to replace three quarters of all passenger cars on the road.

O'Hara says the law didn't set mandates or standards to force the private sector to make or buy alternative fuel.

And, he notes, when Congress passed the law, oil prices seemed destined to go up. Instead, they plummeted. By 1998, they'd dropped to $10 a barrel. O'Hara says that meant that alternative fuels just weren't commercially viable.

Energy Department officials say that with technology advancing, and oil prices likely to stay high, its new goal of 30 percent alternative fuel by 2030 can be achieved.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.