Former politicians and auto and energy executives laid out a comprehensive alternative-fuels plan for the state January 31 under the organizational banner of CalSTEP, the California Secure Transportation Energy Partnership. The bipartisan group's report calls for sweeping new state policies and tax code changes by 2020 to reduce petroleum use by 15 percent and increase alternative fuel use to 20 percent of all transportation fuels. "I applaud the serious efforts of this diverse group," said Assembly speaker Fabian N\u00fa\u00f1ez (D-Los Angeles), who participated in the release of CalSTEP's action plan. N\u00fa\u00f1ez said he already had introduced a bill to push one of the plan's chief recommendations, a state funding program for alternative fuels. Aside from recommending $165 million a year in new state funding, the report backed a state "alternative-fuel portfolio standard" to meet its goal, similar to the renewables portfolio standard for electricity. It also recommended incentives for communities that use land-use planning to reduce vehicle miles traveled within their areas by 10 percent by 2020. The group called for the state to restructure its tax system under what it called "Energy Security Tax Relief and Realignment." Under this recommendation, California would institute a state "foreign oil security fee," either at the gas pump or at incoming refinery pipelines. The state would collect the fee whenever the price of gas dipped below a floor that would be based on the price of gasoline at the time of enactment. The floor would then rise by $1.20\/gallon over the next ten years. The function of the fee - which would be rebated to motorists when they file their annual state tax returns - would be to keep the price of gasoline constant. This would prevent lower-priced gasoline from undercutting the competitiveness of alternative fuels. By doing so, it would support a stable investment climate for the burgeoning alternative-fuels industry. Among others, the authors include George Schultz, former secretary of state; Reginald Modlin, Daimler-Chrysler director of environmental affairs; and Fred Keeley, former state Assembly speaker pro tem. - W.J. K.