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By Desmond L. Marshall
Washington - With the Gulf oil spill in the news, three senators introduced a bill Thursday they say would reduce the use of oil.
Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., introduced the "Electric Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010."
Alexander said the BP oil rig disaster should create more opportunities to reduce oil consumption. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, gas prices since the oil spill have decreased. On May 10, the average price for gas was $2.905 a gallon and on May 24, the price was $2.786.
The senators said their bill is the first to encourage electric vehicle deployment nationally.
"Republicans and Democrats agree that electrifying our cars and trucks is the single best way to reduce our dependence on oil," Alexander said. "Our goal should be to electrify half our cars and trucks within 20 years, which would reduce our dependence on petroleum products."
They agreed that a major problem the United States has is its dependence on oil, especially in transportation. Transportation accounts for more than two-thirds of total national petroleum consumption, and transportation is 95 percent reliant on petroleum.
They said reducing the United States' reliance on petroleum will boost the economy.
The bill would introduce electric cars and trucks throughout the country by creating a national program to support their deployment.
"The greatest untapped resource this country has that most of us don't pay attention to is the amount of unused electricity that we have at night," Alexander said.
The idea is for drivers to plug their cars in at home at night.
The proposal suggests that the government set up five to 15 electric vehicle deployment communities across the United States. The goal is to have 700,000 electric vehicles in these selected communities.
People who buy electric cars could receive tax credits, as could communities that prepare for increased numbers of electric cars.
The bill would require electric utilities to plan for increased use and provide loans and money for research. The bill proposes a prize for whoever develops a battery that could last for 500 miles.
The Obama administration has offered grants, loans and prize money to accomplish some of the same objectives.
The new all-electric 2011 Nissan Leaf battery has a range up to of 100 miles. The 2011 GM Volt can go 40 miles per charge. Ford also plans to sell an electric Focus in 2011.
"This means a lot less carbon dioxide put into the air ... and part of our international leadership as we wrestle to be responsible stewards of this planet," Merkley said of the bill.
The bill's goal is to have half of the nation's cars electrified by 2030, which would cut U.S. demand for oil by a third.
The cost of the program is $10 billion, with $1.5 billion for research and development.
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