Energy, Climate Legislation
Stalls in Senate
By Robert L. Redding Jr.
Bill Passage Unlikely This Year
The 111th Congress has struggled with energy and climate legislation during the first and second sessions. The U.S. House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee approved the American Clean Energy and Security Act, H.R. 2454, in May of 2009. The House of Representatives followed with final passage in late June of 2009.
This comprehensive legislation touched every major industry segment and passed by a narrow margin, divided closely by party lines. Important to repairers is a voluminous section on "Clean Transportation." Provisions include:
• Electric vehicle infrastructure
• Large-scale vehicle electrification program
• Financial assistance for electric drive manufacturing
• Changes for the renewable fuels standard to include residues and byproducts from wood, pulp and paper products facilities, and expands the types of biomass eligible from federal lands.
• Expanding the Department of Transportation's authority to require automobile manufacturers to make vehicles capable of operating on ethanol and methanol-based fuels.
• Requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to establish greenhouse gas emissions standards for new heavy-duty vehicles and engines and for non-road vehicles and engines.
• Increasing the authorization for the Green Jobs Act to $150 million to aid career and technical education and job training programs for renewable energy sectors.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., introduced the America Power Act, S. 1733, in the Senate earlier in the 111th Congress. This legislation has stalled for now and the outlook for floor consideration prior to the Congress adjourning for the year is not good at this time.
The bill included provisions:
• Requiring the EPA to promulgate new emissions standards applicable to heavy-duty motor vehicles or engines;
• Expanding the renewable fuels definition;
• Authorizing state and local governments to prescribe requirements for fuel economy and to enforce standards to control emissions for public transportation, i.e. taxicabs;
• Establishing a program for advanced energy research;
• Establishing funds for programs of study that are focused on jobs in clean energy, etc.;
• Authorizing the EPA to establish requirements for repair of mobile air conditioners and servicing practices and procedures;
• Establishing a Clean Vehicle Technology Fund;
• Establishing a national transportation low-emission energy plan and pilot projects to demonstrate electric vehicles.
President Barack Obama gave an address from the Oval Office at the White House encouraging the Senate to enact a comprehensive energy independence and climate change bill this year. Sens. Kerry and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., released a joint statement about moving the legislation this year.
"This could be a historic leadership moment. President Obama used his first-ever Oval Office address to call for the passage of comprehensive energy and climate legislation. There can be no doubt that the president is rolling up his sleeves to ensure we establish a market mechanism to tackle carbon pollution, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs each year, strengthen energy independence and improve the quality of the air we breathe. We will continue working with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to pass comprehensive reform this summer. This isn't a time for band-aids. It is time to be for something, instead of standing by and doing nothing as our energy habits cost us money and increase our dependence on countries that don't like us."
Despite the leadership's support for moving forward, comprehensive energy and climate legislation will most likely be set aside for this year. Kerry has introduced a scaled-back energy bill, which includes tax incentives for clean energy development as part of the package.
Congress continues to encourage vehicle manufacturers to advance new engine and fuel technologies. Independent repairers will require more training and education as these new vehicles enter the marketplace. Although legislation does provide some assistance for vocational training and education, the language is not nearly sufficient to provide for repairers in the future as to their training and education needs.
The 112th Congress will likely be the battleground for any comprehensive energy and climate bill. The Automotive Service Association will continue to remind the Congress of the importance of vocational training and education for independent repairers, particularly in light of the focus of federal money and regulation on new engine and fuel technologies.
To view the legislation discussed in this article, please go to ASA's legislative website, www.TakingTheHill.com.
Taking the Hill
Kerry Introduces Clean Energy Technology Act
In August, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., introduced Senate Bill 3738, the "Clean Energy Technology Leadership Act of 2010." The purpose of the bill is to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide incentives for clean energy manufacturing, to reduce emissions, to produce renewable energy, and to promote conservation.
The bill, if enacted, would apply to clean energy manufacturing, renewable energy, promoting conservation, transportation, alternative fuels, and other provisions. Essentially, the proposal would enhance and extend qualified credits and bonds for those companies and institutions that manufacture clean energy, conduct research on renewable energies, as well as provide credits and deductions for those homes and commercial buildings that are energy efficient. Important to ASA members are provisions that enhance and extend credits and bonds for natural gas motor vehicles, create incentives for manufacturing facilities producing vehicles fueled by compressed or liquefied natural gas, and for properties used for alternative fuel vehicle refueling. - Philip Thompson
North Carolina Proposes Changing
The North Carolina Department of Transportation has proposed changes regarding both the licensing of safety or emissions inspection stations. The changes were proposed to be made effective July 1, 2010.
Changes included augmenting and adding definitions. For example, an "Emissions Analyzer," defined as, "An approved device used to fully evaluate the vehicle emission control system for proper operation and electronically record and transmit emissions and safety inspection data to the state," has been added to the text of the regulation. Another example includes augmenting the definition of an "Inspection Period," changing the definition from "The month during which the motor vehicle would normally be required to be inspected by G.S. 20-183 4 C" to "The period of time a motor vehicle is required to be inspected." To be current with inspection, a motor vehicle may be inspected up to 90 days prior to the last day of the month in which the registration on the vehicle expires pursuant to G.S. 20-183. 4C. For motor vehicles not previously registered in the state, the inspection period would be a period of 12 months prior to the application for registration pursuant to G.S. 20, Part 3, Article 3 and G.S. 20-183. 4C. - Kaitlyn Dwyer
Massachusetts State Legislature Closes
Formal Session Without Action on S.B. 2517
Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Bill Not Considered
The Massachusetts state legislature ended its formal session on Saturday evening, July 31, without having taken action on Senate Bill 2517, the Massachusetts' "Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Bill." The bill had been referred to the state's House Committee on Ways and Means, and the committee opted to take no action. The bill passed the Massachusetts Senate earlier this summer.
As a result, it is unlikely that the legislation will be considered in the Massachusetts' legislature's informal session for the remainder of the year. Presently, eight states and the U.S. Congress have said no to proposed Right to Repair legislation so far.
"Every legislative body that has considered this legislation has said no," said Ron Pyle, ASA president and chief staff executive. "Countless resources have been spent by the legislation's proponents to pass a bill that is not necessary and will only complicate how repairers conduct day-to-day business. These monies could have been used to train so many of our technicians and provide them the information technology to compete in the repair of automobiles today and in the future.
"Much of the public message offered by the proponents has been that independent repairers can't repair their customers' cars because they can't get service information. This simply is not the case," added Pyle. "Our members are open for business, and they can repair consumers' vehicles without the help of the Massachusetts state government and court system."
The full text of the legislation can be viewed in the Track Legislation section of ASA's legislative website, www.TakingTheHill.com, and more information is available in the Information Availability section.
Bob Redding is the Automotive Service Association's Washington, D.C., representative. He is a member of several federal and state advisory committees involved in the automotive industry.
For more information about the legislative activities of ASA, visit www.TakingTheHill.com.
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