Steckel also urged the administration to issue a final rule for 2013 volumes raising the biomass-based diesel requirement to 1.28 billion gallons, as EPA proposed earlier this year. On Dec. 27, EPA postponed finalizing the 2013 volume, saying it needs more time for review.
“We would have preferred to see that number released and hope to see it finalized soon so that our member companies can plan their investments and continue boosting this economy,” Steckel said. “The increase will create thousands of jobs, improve our energy security by diversifying the fuel supply and cut down on pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.”
Bill would toughen toll hike criteria
The American Trucking Associations thanked Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) after the legislators introduced a bill aimed at preventing unjustified toll increases. The legislation would let the U.S. Department of Transportation determine if toll increases are “just and reasonable,” a power the agency had until 1987, and allow DOT to override what it deems excessive and unjustified increases.
Last year, over the objections of ATA and other groups, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey oversaw a package of toll hikes in order to balance its own budget and pay for a number of nontransportation costs. “There are a number of reasons why tolling is bad public policy, but that policy gets worse when the tolls are raised without consideration for the users of highways and bridges and the revenue generated is not dedicated for their benefit, but rather stolen for other projects,” said Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO.
New coalition unites industry leaders for EV development
Executives from companies in the transportation and utility industries on Jan. 6 announced a new coalition to design a large-scale electric vehicle demonstration project to help create a comprehensive national model for EV deployment. The Electrification Leadership Council is a coalition of key stakeholders throughout the EV supply chain who tout the expertise and resources required to engage federal, state, regional and local agencies and coalitions, utility companies, vehicle manufacturers and financial institutions to help overcome the barriers to broad-scale EV deployment.
ELC members include FedEx Express, Hertz, Navistar, Azure Dynamics, A123 Systems, Coda Automotive, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., ECOtality, Automatiks and GE Capital, among other members, along with representatives from national, state and local agencies. “Our council recognizes that no one entity can create a comprehensive solution for the broad-scale deployment of EVs,” said Mark Aubry, vice president of Navistar’s eStar electric vehicle brand. “That’s why we have come together to create a public and private model that will help us understand what will be required to operate thousands of EVs within a community.”
The ELC’s strategy also leverages the work of other prominent national organizations such as the Electrification Coalition and the Electric Drive Transportation Association that are promoting public policies and education to facilitate the deployment of EVs. Its initial task is to design its demonstration project that will focus on a large-scale EV deployment within densely populated local markets where all of the components of an EV ecosystem can be brought together to better understand the interoperability between EVs and the electric grid across a variety of vehicle classes and applications. Ecosystem components include everything from EV deployment, charging stations, the electrical grid, energy storage devices and battery second-life applications to communication systems and support networks.
“This is about developing a more efficient, effective and environmentally friendly EV ecosystem,” said Dennis Beal, vice president of global vehicles for FedEx Express. “We work with many companies across the EV ecosystem, have learned a lot and are hungry to share our learning, expand collaboration and further the future of transportation electrification with this large-scale cross-industry project. It is the responsible thing to do across the board – environmentally, economically and for our national security as we reduce our dependence on foreign oil and move toward environmentally friendly technologies.”
The ELC will engage with communities that already have developed collaborative efforts to foster EV readiness related to infrastructure planning, regulatory alignment and public awareness and will help those communities close their EV readiness gaps at the grassroots level by addressing barriers to EV deployment.
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