Driving energy independence with clean transportation fuels
The United States has been on a quest for energy independence for decades, and while we as a nation have made progress, more work remains — especially as we tackle net-zero emissions goals to avoid the worst of climate change and transition our economy to be powered by clean energy.
Despite producing more energy domestically than we use, in 2021, the United States still imported roughly 8.5 million barrels of petroleum per day. And the Russian invasion of Ukraine has exposed how vulnerable the global economy is to oil price volatility, a cost most heavily borne by everyday people powering their homes and filling up their vehicles.
There’s a better way. Take the transportation sector, where gas price volatility remains a major economic concern for American families and businesses, accounting for almost one-sixth of the average household’s expenses. If state and federal policy can evolve to meet the rapid rate of innovation happening in the transportation sector, we have the potential to ease costs for consumers, reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil, and achieve greater reductions in our carbon emissions.
A Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) is a policy that would unleash the nation’s potential for homegrown, low-emission fuel sources and realize the promise of accessible and affordable clean transportation. It works by setting a schedule to gradually reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuel sources over time and eventually decarbonize the entire transportation sector.
States across the country, like Oregon, Washington and California, have paved the way by piloting innovative clean fuels policies that are proven to help deploy clean, green, homegrown fuels, reduce air pollution and carbon emissions, all while creating jobs across numerous industries. States across the country, like Michigan, hope to see similar benefits by implementing its own clean fuel standard.
A federal clean fuel standard could further build on top of state efforts to usher in a new era of clean, affordable mobility options. It is time for policymakers on Capitol Hill to take similar action to ensure communities across the country enjoy these same benefits by crafting a federal policy to support efforts at the state and local level.
The upcoming 2023 Energy Independence Summit in Washington, D.C. offers a unique opportunity to bring together policymakers, car manufacturers, energy producers, utilities, corporate energy buyers and other transportation leaders to accelerate bipartisan strategies like a CFS for advancing markets for clean fuels and vehicles.
A federal Clean Fuel Standard would only serve to further advance these important goals and help the U.S. reach their climate goals more quickly. With more than 75 active clean cities coalitions covering nearly every state, we hope to help build on successful state and local efforts to decarbonize the transportation sector.
We are proud to work with the DriveClean Initiative — a diverse group of environmental advocates, renewable energy producers, farmers and vehicle technology firms — who are advocating for a federal clean fuels policy. The group released a statement of principles late last year with a main tenant to take a technology-neutral approach, which would level the playing field for all fuel sources and technologies, along with creating opportunities for innovative fuel solutions to power cars, trucks, planes and ships.
Changing the status quo isn’t easy, but it is possible. It will require collaboration between Democrats and Republicans along with stakeholders all over the country. We must all join together — it’s our duty to harness solutions that will drive down energy costs for Americans, help reduce the impact of climate change, and pave the way for a new generation of clean energy jobs and fuels that will power a bright, clean future. Let’s get to work.
Alleyn Harned is director for Virginia Clean Cities and president of the Transportation Energy Partners, a national, non-profit organization that brings Clean Cities coalition leaders together with clean transportation.
Jane McCurry is executive director at Clean Fuels Michigan, a nonprofit trade association dedicated to advancing the clean mobility industry by advocating for policies and programs that increase electric vehicle (EV) and alternative fuel adoption.
Maggie Striz Calnin is director at Michigan Clean Cities. Clean Cities coalitions are independent regional organizations that operate a range of federal, state, and local programs to help foster the nation’s economic, environmental and energy security by working locally to advance affordable, domestic transportation fuels, energy-efficient mobility systems and other fuel-saving technology practices.
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