Tancredo pushes bill to mandate flex-fuel vehicles

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By AJ Vicens

If Tom Tancredo gets his way, all cars produced in America after 2018 will have to be capable of running on more than just gasoline.

Tancredo — the five-term Littleton Republican representative in the twilight of his congressional career — introduced federal legislation June 10 that would mandate that every car in America produced after the 2018 model year either run on alternative fuels or be a flex-fuel vehicle capable of running on gasoline and other fuels.

Tancredo says he is taking aim at America’s dependence on foreign oil, especially oil from the Middle East.

“At the point you reach $4-per-gallon gasoline, you realize that the issue is not one of markets and philosophy of free market,” Tancredo said. “The fact is, we are at war with radical Islam and are funding our own enemies. … We’re sending that much to someone who wants to kill (us).”

Tancredo says that if every car could run on a variety of fuels, fuel providers would have demand for diversified fuels and would have incentive to produce them, and the competition among fuels would drive down prices.

“It’s just a matter of where you decide to kick-start this whole thing,” Tancredo said.

The bill would fine automakers $10,000 for every vehicle that is not capable of operating on more than one fuel after the 2018 model year.

The head of at least one organization focused on pushing cleaner fuels for transportation thinks Tancredo’s bill is a decent idea but may fall short.

“It’s one strategy to consider,” said John Boesel, president of Weststart-CALSTART. The organization pushes and researches cleaner transportation technologies with the goal of cleaning the air and creating jobs in the renewable energy sector.

“But we don’t know right now that ethanol will be the winning fuel in 2018 or beyond,” Boesel said. “There’s a lot of innovation occurring in that sector, and there may be other, cleaner fuels.”

“Requiring all cars be capable of running on ethanol could be a misdirected effort,” Boesel added. “We’re going to see an emergence of different fuels. Going to the gas station is going to be like going to the supermarket.”

Boesel said that greater emphasis should be put on creating lower-carbon fuels. He said the government should set goals and then get out of the way.

“Setting targets and letting the private sector figure it out is the best way to go,” Boesel said.

Tancredo is still looking for support for his bill, and he doesn’t care where it comes from.

“I haven’t talked with (GOP) leadership about this, but my guess is that they could get behind it all they want to, but unless Nancy Pelosi lets it come forward, it won’t go anywhere,” Tancredo said. Pelosi, as speaker of the U.S. House, has control over what legislation is brought to the floor. Tancredo said he might have to find a Democrat to carry the bill, something he isn’t opposed to doing.

“I’m more than willing to take the second-base position to anyone who’s willing to take this on,” Tancredo said.

Tancredo — who’s known the world over for his staunch views on immigration reform — said that the Fuel Freedom Act of 2008 takes the same approach.

“My entire career in Congress has been focused on what I really believe is the right thing to do, regardless of whether or not I’m going to accomplish anything immediately,” Tancredo said. “When I got into the immigration debate, I knew I had a long road ahead of me, and in this case I’ll probably have to hand this off.”

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.