Clean Transportation in KL and WM

By Matt Wisnieff

The Kerry-Lieberman (KL) bill addresses the issue of clean energy vehicles, efficient transportation infrastructure, and reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from vehicle use in Parts I and II, §§ 1701-1711 (pp. 208-252) and §§ 4111-4141 (pp. 843-871) of the bill.

I. Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Pilot Projects

KL addresses transportation infrastructure and electric vehicle projects in Part I of Subtitle E of the proposed bill. Under § 1701, KL aims to create a national transportation low-emission energy plan as well as a pilot program.

The bill requires the Secretary of Transportation to consult with “relevant stakeholders” in formulating the national transportation low-emission energy plan. The goals of this plan are, (1) to project the near- and long-term need and location of electric drive vehicle refueling infrastructure; (2) to identify infrastructure and standardization needs for electricity and infrastructure providers, vehicle manufacturers, and electricity purchasers; (3) to establish an “aspirational goal” of achieving strategic deployment of electric vehicle infrastructure by January 1, 2020; (4) to prioritize the development of standardized public charge access ports; (5) to examine the feasibility of advanced port systems (that can charge an electric vehicle over a period of 10 to 20 minutes); and (6) to focus on infrastructure that provides consumers with the lowest cost while providing convenient charge system access. (§ 1701(a)(1-6))

The second piece of the electric vehicle provisions of § 1701 is the pilot program for the demonstration of electric vehicles and infrastructure. These projects are to be implemented “after publication of the plan developed under subsection (a) [the national transportation low-emission energy plan]. (§ 1701(b)(2)(A)) The act provides that “(i) at least 1 pilot project is carried out in a rural region of the United States; and (ii) at least 1 pilot project is focused on freight issues.” (§ 1701(b)(2)(D)) Funding for pilot program demonstrations is to come from “Federal financial resources” as well as “appropriate financial incentives, [and] grant programs.” (§ 1701(c))

The pilot program provisions also establish a position called the “LEEP [low-emission energy plan] coordinator,” a full-time position within the Department of Transportation, with responsibility to oversee (1) “the development of the [national transportation low-emission energy plan]” and (2) the implementation of pilot projects.” (§ 1701(d)(1-2)) Funding for these provisions are authorized in “such sums as are necessary.” (§ 1701(e))

II. Transportation Efficiency

Section 1711(a) of KL amends the Title VIII of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to include § 803, which addresses greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions through transportation efficiency. The section authorizes the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promulgate and update regulations to establish (1) national transportation-related GHG reduction goals that match emission reduction targets established under KL; (2) standardized emission models, reduction targets and related methods to be used by States, municipalities and air quality agencies; (3) methods for collection of data on transportation-related GHG emissions; and (4) publication and distribution of “successful strategies employed by States, Indian tribes, metropolitan planning organization and other entities to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.” (CAA § 803(a)(1-4))

KL’s amendments to the CAA also require the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Administrator of the EPA to promulgate and update regulations to improve the ability of transportation models and tools to address GHG emissions, to assess projected transportation-related strategies and activity, and to update transportation planning requirements and approval of transportation plans. (CAA § 803(b)(1-3))

All regulations promulgated and updated by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the EPA are to be done in consultation with States, Indian tribes, metropolitan planning organizations, and air quality agencies. (CAA § 803(c)) Under the amendment, proposed regulations are to be published not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of KL. Final regulations are to be promulgated not later than 6 months following the release of the proposals. (CAA § 803(d)) In assessing the success of these regulations, USDOT and the EPA are to examine their contributions to improvements in vehicle efficiency, GHG performance of transportation fuels, reductions in vehicle miles traveled, changes in consumer demand and use of transportation management systems, and any other GHG-related transportation policies enacted by Congress. (CAA § 803(e))

Finally, § 1711(b) lays out a plan for promoting GHG reductions in metropolitan transportation infrastructure planning, which the bill accomplishes by amending Title 23 (Highways) of the United States Code, Chapter 1 (Federal-Aid Highways), Section 134. These amendments include provisions for setting and meeting GHG-reduction targets by metropolitan planning organizations. Additionally, these plans are to be subject to review by the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of the EPA.

III. Investments in Clean Vehicles

KL § 4111(b) establishes in the Treasury a “Clean Vehicle Technology Fund” for the purpose of providing investments for the development of advanced clean vehicle technology. Financing for this fund is to come from the auction of emission allowances. (§ 4111(c)) Under § 4111(d), the Administrator of the EPA is to distribute amounts allocated to the Fund to provide facility conversion funding grants to vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers. This distribution is to be carried out in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation. The “advanced technology vehicles” eligible for this fund include “any light-duty vehicle assembled in the United States that meet Tier II Bin 5 [EPA] emission standards” and that has “a target fuel economy equal to or greater than 115 percent of the base model year target fuel economy for a vehicle of the same type and footprint.” (§ 4111(e)) Priority is to be given to projects that involve reequipping or expanding existing manufacturing facilities.

At least 25% of the funds provided under the Clean Vehicle Technology Fund are to be used for reequipping or expanding facilities in the United States to produce plug-in electric drive vehicles, qualifying components for electric vehicles, or engineering integration for electric vehicle production that is performed in the United States. (§ 4111(f)) At least 20% of the proceeds of emission allowances are to be made available to the Administrator of the EPA to provide assistance for the deployment, integration, and use of advanced technology vehicles, and plug-in electric drive or hybrid-electric, hybrid-hydraulic, plug-in hybrid, electric, and fuel cell drive medium- and heavy-duty motor vehicles under KL § 4111(g).

IV. Emission Standards for Mobile Sources (Vehicles)

Under KL § 4141, Title VIII of the CAA is amended by the addition of CAA § 804, which sets GHG emission standards for mobile sources, including nonroad engines and vehicles. Under the new CAA § 804(b)(1), the Administrator of the EPA shall promulgate greenhouse gas emission standards for new heavy-duty motor vehicles or new heavy-duty motor vehicle engines not later than December 31, 2010. As for emission standards for nonroad engines, the Administrator shall promulgate standards for greenhouse gases from new nonroad engines not later than December 31, 2012. (CAA § 804(c)(1)(B))

V. Comparison with Waxman-Markey (WM) Bill

Essentially, the KL and WM bills cover the same ground on electric vehicle transportation, but the KL bill also provides for additional funding from emission allowance auctions. The WM bill does not contemplate the use of emission allowances to fund advances in electric vehicle research, production or infrastructure.

However, WM does contain provisions for transportation emission reduction goals for metropolitan areas that are virtually identical to those found in KL. Under Subtitle C, §§ 121-124, WM lays out virtually the same program as KL does for promoting investments in the deployment, integration, and use of advanced technology vehicles, and plug-in electric drive or hybrid-electric, hybrid-hydraulic, plug-in hybrid, or other clean energy vehicles and the infrastructure necessary to support them—such as “Smart Grid equipment and infrastructure, as described in title XIII of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, to facilitate the charging and integration of plug-in electric drive vehicles.”1

  1. WM § 122(d)(2)(B []
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