Washington Update 2010: Back to the Future

April 1, 2010
Kastner gave an overview of current and expected regulatory actions. His key points: He said the stimulus plan was always meant to last much longer than

Kastner gave an overview of current and expected regulatory actions. His key points:

  • He said the stimulus plan was always meant to last much longer than the first year. He said the bulk of infrastructure spending will come this year, with $93 billion committed to be spent.

“With any luck, that will help our industry a bit,” he said. “Some of that will trickle down to vehicle equipment sales.”

He said the 2010 jobs bill includes a $30 billion measure passed by the Senate that extends small-business equipment expensing rules. The measure creates a hiring credit, extends highway funding, and expands the Build America Bonds program to finance more infrastructure projects.

He said the estate tax was fully repealed at the beginning of the year, but in 2011 comes back with a pre-2001 rate of 55% on estates over $1 million. There are negotiations ranging from a 35% rate with an exemption of $5 million per spouse to 45% on estates over $3.5 million.

“The question is, does it become retroactive to January 1 when it expired?” he said. “There's a big debate on whether you can tax retroactively. If you had plans based on the estate tax not being here this year, I guess you should hurry up and take your chances on whether it will be retroactive.”

He said Cap and Trade has passed the House but stopped in the Senate, and “there has been backlash on the whole concept, so I suspect it won't get passed this year.”

He said there is much confusion on greenhouse gas emissions, with Congress going against the EPA.

“The Administration clearly wants to address greenhouse gas emissions,” he said “The EPA recently issued a public endangerment finding, which by law allows them to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The concept for the EPA was that greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming, which changes the climate, which changes flora and fauna, which creates pollen and hurts people with asthma, and therefore is a public danger. Hey, I didn't make this thing up. Really, what the EPA was saying was, ‘Congress, if you don't do something, we will.’ There's going to be a big cloud of dust, and I don't know what will happen, but I think there will be some sort of greenhouse gas emissions regulations. One of them will certainly be truck fuel economy standards.”

He said that in terms of green-truck funding, government/industry partnerships are necessary.

“A lot of these alternative fuels and technologies standing alone are not necessarily economically viable today,” he said “If government doesn't step in to help when we truly need them and when they would be economically viable, they might not be there if we don't get through this five- to 10-year stretch of time.”

That includes natural gas (HR 1835/S1408, New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act; and HR 1622, funding for five-year research, development, and deployment program) and hybrids (HR 445/S679, Heavy Duty Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act).

Kastner said the President's proposed 2011 budget includes $60 million for Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants, which are competitive grants to fund implementation of EPA- or CARB-verified and certified diesel-emission-reduction technologies.

He said the NTEA is excited about the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act (HR 3246/S2843), which funds research, development, and demonstration of advanced technologies for medium to heavy duty, is fuel- and technology-neutral, and creates a DOE office for medium and heavy trucks, with $1.1 billion specific to medium and heavy trucks over five years.

“It's really a growth issue for America,” he said. “It would keep manufacturing in this country. Other countries are looking at alternative fuels and advanced technologies. If we don't do that here, we going to miss an opportunity. This is a tremendous piece of legislation.”

About the Author

Mike Kastner NTEA Senior Director of Government Activities