I’m not in the habit of regurgitating press releases, but one I just got from Obama’s office seems significant, so I’m reprinting it below the fold. (As I’m sure our faithful readers will hasten to point out, it’s an ethanol bill.) Discuss.

U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) Friday said that they have introduced comprehensive legislation that will use alternative fuel technologies to greatly decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil.

“For all of our military might and economic dominance, the Achilles’ heel of the most powerful country on Earth is still the oil we cannot live without,” said Obama. “I could give you all plenty of reasons why it’s a good idea for this country to move away from an oil-based economy, but all we really need to know about the danger of our oil addiction comes directly from words spoken by Osama bin Laden: ‘Focus your operations on oil, especially in Iraq and the Gulf area, since this will cause them to die off [on their own].'”

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Obama and Lugar’s bipartisan legislation, the American Fuels Act of 2006 (S. 2446), would take a four-step approach to reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. First, the legislation would spur investment in alternative fuels by increasing the production of cellulosic biomass ethanol (CBE) to 250 million gallons by 2012. It would also create an Alternative Diesel Standard that will require 2 billion gallons of alternatives diesels be mixed into the 40 billion gallon annual national diesel pool by 2015. This proposal is modeled of the Renewable Fuels Standard, which has proved successful in increasing ethanol production and use.

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Second, the legislation would help increase consumer demand for alternative fuels by providing a short-term, 35 cents per gallon tax credit for E85 fuel and by providing automakers with a $100 tax credit for every E85-capable Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) produced.

Third, it would require the U.S. government to lead by example and increase access to alternative fuels by requiring the government to allow public access to alternative fueling stations located on federal government property and by requiring that only clean buses be eligible for federal cost sharing. It would also create establish a Department of Defense “fly-off competition” that would encourage private sector companies to compete to find the most energy efficient alternatives fuels for defense purposes.

Finally, the legislation would create a Director of Energy Security to oversee and keep America focused on its goal of energy independence. The Director of Energy Security would serve as the principal advisor to the President, the National Security Council, the National Economic Council and the Homeland Security Council.

“This bill will help tilt our energy balance toward alternative fuels, moving these fuels into additional markets and making them more widely available for consumers,” said Lugar. “We believe that U.S. national security will be served by more robust coordination of all the elements that contribute to energy security. Consequently, the bill also would establish the post of Director of Energy Security, who would answer to the President. Our policies should be targeted to replace hydrocarbons with carbohydrates. Obviously this is not a short-term proposition, but we can off-set a significant portion of demand for oil by giving American consumers a real choice of automotive fuel. We must end oil’s near monopoly on the transportation sector, which accounts for 60 percent of American oil consumption. I am pleased to join Sen. Obama in promoting this legislation and appreciate his initiative in drafting it.”

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Senator Obama said that while the reforms he and Senator Lugar have proposed will require sacrifice, they are attainable if America truly commits to the goal of energy independence.

“The President was absolutely correct when he said America is addicted to oil, but we can’t continue to settle for piecemeal, bite-sized solutions to our energy crisis,” said Obama. “We need a national commitment to energy security. Now is the time for serious leadership to get us started down the path of energy independence. The ideas Senator Lugar and I have proposed are bipartisan and common-sense and would take an enormous step towards energy independence.”

Senator Richard Lugar is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Obama is also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee as well as the Environment and Public Works Committee.