As we search for lasting ways to meet our nation’s energy needs, we must make every possible effort to encourage the use of renewable biofuels, and the manufacture of fuel-efficient vehicles.

My tax credit proposal for flexible fuel hybrid vehicles (FFHVs) does both. On the road today, you have flexible fuel cars that can run on E85, regular gasoline, or any combination of the two; and you have hybrid vehicles that use electricity to cut down on gas use. In January, Ford Motor Company unveiled the world’s first vehicle combining the flex fuel and the hybrid technologies. The company is currently researching the marriage of these two systems, and the vehicle is expected to be market-ready soon. While Ford is currently the only car maker that is marketing flex fuel hybrid vehicles, others are expected to follow.

It is important we provide incentives for people to buy these cars. Ford estimates that if 5% of the vehicles on the road in the U.S. were flex fuel hybrids, we would eliminate the need for 140 million barrels of imported oil a year. If we make it easier for consumers to purchase FFHVs, we make it more attractive for companies like Ford (a U.S. company, I might add) to make them.

That’s what my tax credit proposal is all about. Its basic structure is like that of the hybrid credit in the EP Act of 2005: the more fuel efficient the car, the higher the credit, up to $3,500.

If we are serious about weaning this country off of imported oil, passing measures like this is a common sense start.