Yesterday was a truck-friendly day here on Capitol Hill. I’d like to highlight two pieces of legislation that were dropped into their respective hoppers and shuttled off to their committee of jurisdiction for full consideration. As with most fuel price spikes, you can always count on the equally-high influx in pieces of energy lesigation.
Heavy Duty Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act
Yesterday Senators Collins, Feinstein and Kohl introduced Senate Bill 938 – The Heavy Duty Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act. In summary this bill requires the Department of Energy to expand its go-green vehicle programs to include trucks. It establishes an interesting 2-phase program for prototype development of a hybrid truck.
Phase One consists of a single prototype that will be required to hit certain metrics against their non-hybrid counterpart. If you get the green light for Phase Two, presumably from not failing to beat the non-hybrid truck, you’ll then build 50 of these prototypes for real world considerations and testing. Given our fiscal climate, any spending not related to a stronger defense (higher military pay and benefits) has a hard time gaining support on the hill. This is a bit different for two reasons.
First, the second phase of the program requires the DoE and the participant to analyze the market hurdles; to include production, material costs, marketability, return on investment and I’m sure there will be plenty more created in the construction of the program specifics.
Secondly, this is trucks. It’s what America does. How many times have you seen a blue oval or gold bowtie bouncing through a muddy construction site full of cinder blocks bouncing around in the bed? Not supporting this would be like saying you prefer crepes over apple pie. Also, not to forget that the people in America who wear, as Mike Rowe would say “dirt badges”, make up a majority of your popular vote. Walk into any American Legion during a campaign event and ask the guy next to you, “How’d you like to spend less money on gas in your work truck and still drive American?” I’m sure you’d get an unequivocal “Damn right I would”. While this bill has what we nowadays consider a small price tag ($16m x 3yrs), given the magnitude of its patriotic base and widespread impact on American fuel consumption – I give it a B+ in the “Will It Pass” contest.
Click HERE for Senator Collins’ statement.
Yesterday Representative Tonko (NY) and Representative Paulsen (MN) introduced HR 1803, which seeks to improve rest areas for all drivers, but focuses closely on truck drivers. There is a sad story on the origin of this legislation (click here), but my blog isn’t one for sad. Plus, I wouldn’t want my comically cynical tone mistaken for being a heartless bastard. Instead I’d rather quickly go down what this proposes.
This bill is full of great ideas and would considerably improve rest areas, but given the price tag ($20m per year) I think it will have difficulty getting past the gauntlet of yellow snake emblazoned flags. Personally, I’d defund a few national parks to have better rest areas. I, like most people I assume, frequent rest areas more than national parks. Especially those parks stuffed away in remote part of Oregon or Montana. Also as someone who spends a great deal of time driving for the sake of driving – I would feel much better knowing that truck drivers were sleeping better. There is nothing more frightening than to be cruising along the highway when a 34,000lb truck starts to veer into your lane.
Without further adieu I give you the list of the direct impacts of this legislation:
Construction of safety rest areas that include parting for commercial motor vehicles
Constructing commercial motor vehicle parking facilities next to commercial truck stops and travel plazas
Opening existing facilities for commercial motor vehicle parking, including inspection and weigh stations and park-and-ride facilities
Promoting the availability of publicly or privately provided commercial motor vehicle parking on the National Highway System
Constructing turnouts along the National Highway System for commercial motor vehicles
Making capital improvements to public commercial motor vehicle parking facilities currently closed on a seasonal basis
Improving the geometric design of interchanges on the National Highway System to improve access to commercial motor vehicle parking facilities
Photo Credit: pigeonforgesays.com