Some sticks, a few carrots, a wide-ranging point of view and a little guts.

Panelists in an energy policy session find consensus on the need for those fundamentals, if America is going to wean itself off oil dependency and produce more environmentally friendly vehicles.

The sticks, the experts say, already are partially in place in the form of tougher fuel-economy standards that mature in 2016.

But both Bob Holycross, manager-environment, energy planning and compliance for Ford Motor Co., and Tom Stricker, Washington director-environmental technology and regulatory affairs for Toyota Motor Corp., say they are concerned the fragile alliance between the federal government and states such as California that led to the new national fuel-economy regulations could break down beyond 2016.

“The priority has to be to assure the framework remains in place for 2017 and beyond,” Holycross says.

But in addition to fuel-economy standards, the government needs to adopt other measures to discourage fuel consumption, panelists say. The list could include such steps as higher gasoline taxes and road-use fees.

David Friedman, research director-clean vehicles for the Union of Concerned Scientists, also recommends regulations mandating clean fuels and suggests linking future state highway funding to other carbon-reduction initiatives.

He calls for federal dollars to support related initiatives, including $12 billion to back advanced vehicle development (including $5 billion-$10 billion aimed at electric vehicles).

The panelists say policy makers should provide carrots in the form of tax breaks on purchases of advanced-technology vehicles.

2010 World Congress Attendance: 10,000 Down 38% from 2009