What’s New in the Transportation Bill?
On Friday, December 4th, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act (Public Law 114-94). Like prior surface transportation legislation, the FAST Act authorizes funds for highway construction, as well as highway safety and public transportation programs.
There are several FAST Act provisions with implications for Clean Cities portfolio items:
- National Electric Vehicle Charging and Alternative Fuel Station Corridors. Section 1413 of the bill charges the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) with designating national plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging and hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling corridors in strategic locations along major highways by December 2016. DOT will update and re-designate the corridors every five years.
- PEV Charging on Federal Property. Section 1413 also explicitly authorizes the U.S. General Services Administration or other federal agencies to install electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) that may be used by federal employees and certain others to charge their privately-owned vehicles. Those who use the EVSE to charge vehicles must pay to reimburse the agencies for the EVSE procurement, installation, and maintenance.
- State High Occupancy Lane (HOV) Exemptions. Section 1411 extends the provisions related to HOV lane exemptions for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-certified low-emission and energy-efficient vehicles. Only alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) and PEVs, however, may access HOV lanes toll-free through September 30, 2025. States are allowed to implement toll-access HOV programs for other low-emission and energy-efficient vehicles through September 30, 2019.
- Tire Fuel Efficiency Standards. Section 24331 states that DOT, EPA, and the U.S. Department of Energy will develop regulations for passenger car tire fuel efficiency standards by December 2017. Some exemptions apply, including light truck, snow, and spare tires.
- Natural Gas Vehicle Fuel Economy Calculation.Section 24341 moves up to 2017, from 2020, when natural gas vehicle fuel economy calculation methodology (see 40 Code of Federal Regulations 600.510) will change. Model year 2017 and later vehicles will use the new calculation methodology to better align with the conventional vehicle fuel economy methodology update schedule.
The changes outlined above are effective immediately. To view the full text of the FAST Act, visit https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/hr22/BILLS-114hr22enr.pdf.
As an additional federal legislation update, Congress is expected to vote on the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act very soon. The PATH Act, now House Amendment #2 to H.R. 2029, could extend AFV refueling property tax credits, cellulosic biofuels production tax credits, and biodiesel and renewable diesel incentives. Stay tuned for more information!