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By Caroline Holland
Criticism Over Potential House Fuel Bill
A hearing was held June 7 to present a potential fuel bill drafted by Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va. The purpose of the bill is to expand the infrastructure of renewable and alternative fuels while granting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate greenhouse gas levels in transportation fuels in compliance with the Clean Air Act.
Even before the hearing, Democrats criticized the early drafting of the bill, alleging it would undercut state efforts to regulate GHG and would, in essence, invalidate the Supreme Court's recent ruling.
Additionally, the House draft would force automakers to reach an average mileage of 32.5 miles per gallon overall for cars and trucks.
The Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Massachusetts, et al. v. EPA that gave the EPA the authority to set GHG standards for motor vehicles. Critics and environmentalists alike believe the draft limits the authority of the EPA that was just recently granted in the Supreme Court ruling. The Energy and Commerce Committee will anticipate a vote on this proposed fuel economy increase in the next two weeks despite criticism from some Democrats.
Senate Banking Committee Debating National Insurance Act of 2007
Senate Bill 40 was introduced May 24 and was referred to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Sens. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and John Sununu, R-N.H., introduced similar legislation last year and co-sponsored the bill this year.
The proposed bill would establish an optional federal charter to be used by insurers operating under the jurisdiction of multiple states. It calls for the creation of an Office of National Insurance, which would act under an extensive set of regulatory and supervisory powers. Additionally, there would be a Division of Consumer Protection and a Fraud Division within the national office.
The proposed bill is similar to legislation presented last year, which failed to move during the last session. The only significant change to last year's bill includes the ability of a person with a federal producer's license under the new program to sell additional lines of insurance.
ASA supports the Senate moving first on the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act versus any federal regulation initiative that might serve to dilute long-term insurance reform.
EPA Hearings Held Regarding California Waiver Request
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a hearing May 30 regarding the Clean Air Act. This was the second session of a two-part hearing that was used to gather public comments regarding the California Air Resources Board's (CARB) appeal for the implementation of a greenhouse gas (GGH) reduction measure for motor vehicles.
The Clean Air Act requires that California obtain a waiver for regulation when the state's air quality rulings are deemed more rigid than federal standards. In response, California requested a waiver to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2016. California would begin implementation of the measure with motor vehicles in 2009. CARB claims that the technology is already in place to enact such regulation.
S.B. 40, National Insurance Act of 2007, is available on the Automotive Service Association's legislative Web site, www.TakingTheHill.com.
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