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Gary P.
Democrat MI

About Sen. Gary
  • Hire More Heroes Act of 2015—Continued

    by Senator Gary Peters

    Posted on 2015-07-29

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    PETERS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Vehicle Technology Mr. PETERS. Mr. President, the United States is a world leader in new technological advancements, and in no sector is that better illustrated than the auto industry.

    We find ourselves at a critical juncture in terms of vehicle technology. Advancements such as super-lightweight materials and vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications are rapidly coming to market and changing the way Americans get to work, travel on vacation, and move goods and services across the country. With a shared goal in maximizing the potential of these technologies, we must get ahead of the curve and think strategically about how to seamlessly weave them together in a way that will best increase public safety, fuel efficiency, and vehicle performance. That is why I am excited to be leading two bills that will provide the tools researchers, engineers, manufacturers, and others need to create the next generation of cars and trucks built in Michigan and in States all across the country.

    The Vehicle Innovation Act builds on the Department of Energy's innovative work to improve vehicle fuel economy and minimize petroleum use. The Vehicle Innovation Act is bipartisan, with strong support from my lead cosponsors, Senator Alexander and Senator Stabenow. Thanks to a team effort, it passed as an amendment to a bipartisan energy bill in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources yesterday by a vote of 20 to 2.

    The need for this legislation is clear. Oil dependency is driven by transportation, particularly cars and trucks. Transportation is responsible for 66 percent of U.S. petroleum usage and 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. America's dependence on oil poses significant economic, energy, and environmental risks to the United States, and the Department of Defense has recognized that our reliance on oil puts our men and women in uniform at greater risk.

    We have 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads in the United States, and it will take decades of sustained effort to turn over that fleet.

    It is absolutely critical that we develop the advanced technologies now in order to achieve fuel savings in the future and become truly energy independent. The Vehicle Innovation Act establishes a consistent and consolidated authority for the Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Program, which promotes partnerships with the public and private sector to improve fuel efficiency in vehicles. Through this program, the DOE will collaborate with light-duty automobile and medium- and heavy-duty commercial truck engineers, manufacturers, and suppliers to conduct cutting-edge research that will help us advance the future of fuel-efficient cars and trucks.

    DOE's sustainable transportation initiatives are already making great strides in vehicle efficiency, and VIA will continue to strengthen those activities while providing new authorities to expand their work.

    The SuperTruck Initiative is a great example of this. Industry partners have achieved and exceeded the program goal of a 50-percent improvement in overall freight efficiency on a heavy-duty, class 8 tractor-trailer. Some have even reached over a 100-percent improvement. My bill ensures that the DOE will be able to continue working with the industry on supertrucks.

    Another example that the Vehicle Innovation Act will build on is the work on multimaterial, lightweight vehicles. Holistic vehicle and manufacturing design improvements for reducing vehicle weight can result in weight reduction and fuel economy gains of over 20 percent.

    The Vehicle Innovation Act is technology neutral. It develops and strengthens the toolbox for auto experts without picking winners and losers. It also directs the Department of Energy to continue its investment into multiple transformational technologies, such as hydrogen and batteries. DOE research and development has cut costs for fuel cell systems by 50 percent since 2006. My bill will build on this success and expand DOE's focus into the near-term deployments that will result in major savings for the national fleet.

    The Vehicle Innovation Act also includes new research authorities on vehicle-to-vehicle--or V2V--communications systems. This technology allows cars to talk to one another and recognize dangers that a vehicle's radar, cameras, and other sensors can't detect.

    As we are working to develop these features in new vehicles, we must also ensure that we are keeping pace with technologies in our infrastructure.

    Vehicle-to-vehicle infrastructure--or V2I--technology allows vehicles to communicate with the road and has the ability to help prevent collisions, relieve traffic congestion, and reduce unnecessary energy consumption. That is why I introduced another bill to promote investments in V2I technology by authorizing States to use existing surface and highway transportation funding to invest in V2I projects as they upgrade highway infrastructure.

    An example of V2I in action is a monitor on a bridge that will tell approaching drivers if there is a dangerous ice buildup on it. Other examples include traffic signals that warn vehicles of stopped traffic or sensors that warn of nearby emergency vehicles for work zones.

    In 2013 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that more than 32,000 people were killed in vehicle crashes. According to NTHSA, V2V and V2I--the two technologies being developed--will be able to eliminate up [[Page S6121]] to 80 percent of vehicle accidents involving nonimpaired drivers once they are fully deployed.

    I am pleased that my V2I legislation is included in the overall highway bill the Senate is considering this week, and I look forward to working in the fall during the conference to make sure this funding eligibility language remains in the bill.

    V2V and V2I technologies are part of the auto industry's future, and these technologies will be readily available in the near term. That is why it is so important that we make these investments in our infrastructure now to ensure that we can start using these lifesaving technologies as they become available.

    Taken together, these two bills represent the type of forward- thinking policymaking that Congress should be focused on every day. Investments in research and development have demonstrated the ability to transform our society for the better, and I am determined to make sure the United States is the country that is driving forward advanced technology instead of putting on the brakes and being left behind.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.

    Planned Parenthood Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I come to the floor to speak about the importance of protecting women's health and protecting their access to their health care, in other words, their choice. I strongly oppose what is becoming a major effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has ensured women receive the health care they need for almost 100 years now. That was before women even had the right to vote. Its founder was thrown in jail for making birth control available, and it has been under near-constant attack since then.

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