Energy bill includes aid to reduce diesel emissions

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As oil hit a record $63 a barrel on Monday, Aug. 8, President Bush signed an energy bill praised by the American Trucking Associations as helping mitigate costs of emission-reducing equipment and promoting renewable fuels.

“The push toward renewable fuels and investments in new refining capacity serve to prevent high fuel prices from limiting the long-term potential of the economy while also easing the fuel needs of our industry,” ATA President Bill Graves said.

Bush said the law will create $14.5 billion in tax cuts over the next decade and provide incentives to developers of alternative energy sources and suppliers of domestic oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy.

“This bill is not going to solve our energy challenges overnight,” Bush said. “Most of the serious problems, such as high gasoline costs or the rising dependence on foreign oil, have developed over decades. It’s going to take years of focused effort to alleviate those problems.”

The law creates the Diesel Truck Retrofit and Fleet Modernization Program. It allows public agencies to compete for $100 million in grants over three years for diesel retrofits or newer equipment. Additionally, carriers will be eligible for $200 million in retrofit grants through the bill’s Diesel Emissions Reduction provision.

It also provides $94.5 million in grants for idle reduction and energy conservation technologies through the SmartWay Transport Partnership over three years. SmartWay is an Environmental Protection Agency program in which fleets and other parties voluntarily work to reduce energy consumption and emissions.

The ATA credits the bill as clarifying the tire excise tax and requiring study of how much of it is collected annually.

The final bill dropped the Bush goal of opening Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Still, congressional supporters expect to pass that provision in a spending bill later this year, according to a State Department report.

The new law also will extend daylight-saving time by one month, beginning in 2007.

The Senate passed the 1,724-page bill 74-26 July 29 after the House passed it 275-156 the day before.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, praised the law as improving energy supplies and conservation while developing the new energy technologies. Still, he stated it lacks mandatory measures to reduce global warming and would not reduce foreign oil dependence significantly.