Volume 3 Edition 1 October 1st, 2009 Produced by: Jason Pavluchuk, Government Relations Inc. Public Policy Communications Just Got Better Starting this month, GRI will be producing a monthly legislative update for ACT members which will be issued the 1st of the month. This update will be a summary of what’s going on in the federal policy arena. These updates will In This Edition: include everything from legislative activities, to meetings, to grant opportunities for members and everything in between; but that’s not all. Every two weeks, Public Policy Jason Pavluchuk and ACT will produce a video blog, or a VLOG, which will Communications Just Got provide a brief 5 minute update on what’s going on in our nation’s capitol. You Better………………………1 want more you say……well ok. If you go to the ACT Public Policy page of www.actweb.org you will notice that it has been updated. ACT staff, working with Senate Climate Change Jason Pavluchuk, will be constantly updating the public policy page with timely Legislation Introduced……1 information about everything you need to know. All this plus the public policy council calls and ACT E-lerts you’ve come to know and love. Climate Change Bill Summary of Transportation Sections…………………..2 Senate Climate Change Legislation Introduced Goodbye SAFETEA-LU, On September 30th, 2009, Senator Barbara Boxer (D‐CA), Chair of the Hello Extensions………..3 Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, along with Senator John Kerry (D‐MA), introduced the ‘Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act’ Federal Government This legislation is the Senate’s version of climate change legislation. Reports on Teleworking…3 During September, we continued to work with the Senate Environment & EPA Announces Mandatory Public Works Committee on this legislation. While the legislation did not Reporting of Greenhouse include allocations of allowances or revenue, we believe, based on Gases……………………..5 intelligence we have picked up, that baseline funding for transportation will be only 1%‐1½%, an inconsequential allowance. Details of the transportation sections can be found on page 2. Additionally, the climate ACT LEGISLATIVE change legislation includes a to‐be determined set‐aside for the Energy & ALERTS Environment Block Grant program which ACT helped create. Green Routes to Work……4 In addition to the increase of the percentage of allowances which will be COMMUTE LESS……….5 dedicated to transportation. We are working towards including a provision which will provide a credit/offset for employers who subsidize their employees commute. We are working with Senator Carper (D‐DE) on this provision. There are many victories in this legislation for ACT and we will continue to work on it as it makes its way through the Senate. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions through Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emission Transportation Efficiency (Section 112) Reduction Program Grants (Section 113) National Transportation GHG Reduction Goal This section creates a planning grant for all MPOs and a competitive grant program to provide funding for states and Directs the EPA to consult the DOT Secretary to establish a MPOs to implement transportation-related greenhouse gas national goal for transportation-related greenhouse gas reduction plans. This program is funded with 10% of revenue emissions reductions commensurate with the goal in the dedicated to the “State and Local Investment in Energy overall bill. EPA and DOT assess progress toward reducing Efficiency and Renewable Energy” funded in Section 202. transportation-related GHGs every 6 years. Planning & Competitive Grant Program (in the State and Models and Methodologies Local Investment in Energy Efficiency and Renewable EPA in consultation with DOT develops models, Energy” methodologies and best practices for states and regions to use when developing transportation sector greenhouse gas • Maximum of 5% of funds in this section for MPOs to emissions reduction targets and plans. develop the greenhouse gas reduction plans, distributed by formula based on population. Transportation Planning Process to Include Oil & • DOT in consultation with EPA would develop a Sustainability Considerations criteria for distributing the remaining funds as grants Amends the state and MPO transportation planning process to to states and MPOs for projects and programs within add additional factors to consider, as well as additional transportation greenhouse gas reduction plans. The agencies to coordinate with when doing developing their long federal share is 80%. The formula takes into account: range transportation plans o Quantity of GHG reductions estimated from plan Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets and Strategies in State o Cost-effectiveness of GHG reductions over and MPO Planning the life of the plan Amends the state and metropolitan planning process to o Progress toward achieving reductions include transportation-related greenhouse gas reduction o Reductions previously achieved targets and strategies and increased coordination between o Plans that address mobility needs of people agencies. Sets minimum requirements for these targets and without cars, with low incomes, minorities, strategies that they should: the elderly, disabled, etc • Demonstrate progress in stabilizing and reducing o Other factors such as innovative approaches, emissions; economic development, and other benefits. • Inventory surface transportation related GHG emissions; • Apply to modes of surface transportation addressed within the existing planning process Transit Funding (in the State Climate Change • Use the models and methodologies developed by EPA and DOT; Response and Transportation Fund) • Be integrated into state and MPO transportation plans and TIPS; Allocates 45% of this fund to public • Use scenario analysis to evaluate the emission reduction transportation agencies, which can be used for effects of a variety of strategies including: public capital needs and preventative maintenance (as transportation, walking and biking infrastructure, zoning well as potentially operating assistance in areas and land use changes, travel demand management (including pricing, telecommuting, carpooling), better under 200,000), which is distributed as follows: system management, intercity passenger rail, bus and • 80% to urbanized areas through section freight, hybrid vehicle facilities, and other efforts that are 5307 of title 49 shown to reduce GHGs from transportation. • 10% to areas other than urbanized ones through section 5311 of title 49 DOT and EPA will review and approve the greenhouse gas emission reduction plans based on whether the plan is likely to • 10% to states via the growing and high achieve the greenhouse gas emission target and complies with density states formula through section the minimum requirements. There is no penalty for non- 5340 of title 49 compliance, except that the state or MPO is not eligible for funding in section 113. Goodbye SAFETEA-LU, Hello Extensions The end of the fiscal year came and went as it usually does, with Congress completing work on a continuing resolution which will keep the government up and running for the next month. However, this fiscal year was special for transportation advocates. It marked the end of SAFETEA-LU. And to nobody’s surprise, the expiration came and went without a new long term authorization being signed into law. However, what was surprising (at least mildly surprising) is that Congress adjourned September 30th without passing an extension of SAFETEA-LU. The sticking point over an extension was the length of the extension and the repeal of an $8.7 billion contract rescission. The House has passed a 3-month extension of the transportation bill which did not include a rescission, while the Senate has taken no action, but has been working towards a White House backed 18-month extension. As the clock wound down to zero hour, Senate leaders agreed to the House’s wishes on length, but insisted on including language which repealed the $8.7 billion rescission that was a part of SAFETEA-LU. The House informally agreed to accepting the repeal if they were able to make it budget neutral. As time wore down, the Senate ran out of parliamentary tricks and simply ran out of time to get an extension passed. Despite the doomsday scenario, precautions were taken by Congress to continue funding the Highway Trust Fund. Included in the Continuing Resolution signed by the President is a provision that extends SAFETEA-LU one month. It should be noted that the rescission mentioned is a rescission of contract authority, or ‘funny money’; indications are that real impacts on transportation are minimal. Additionally, Congressional leaders have indicated that they plan on including language in the next extension that will make whole States while were effected. Federal Government Reports on Teleworking As a part of language ACT worked to secure in different pieces of legislation, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) must submit an annual report to Congress on the Important Dates number of teleworkers in the Federal workforce. On September 16, 2009, OPM submitted its annual "Report to the Congress" on the "Status of Telework in the Federal Government". Next Public Policy Council Call: Wednesday, October 14th 2009 The Report represents data collected from 78 Federal at 2 pm EST agencies about telework participation in 2008. These agencies reported that 102,900 employees or 8.64% of their telework-eligible populations were teleworking. The report also indicated that of that group, 64% were teleworking with relative frequently (either 1-2 days a week, or 3 or more days per week). The numbers from the national capital region are dramatically higher thanks in large part to the efforts of ACT members in the region. The full report can be found below: http://www.telework.gov/Reports_and_Studies/Annual_Reports/2009 teleworkreport.pdf ACT Calls on Its Members to Support Green Routes to Work (HR 3271) & Commute Less (HR 3517) As Congress returns from its summer recess, ACT is calling on its members for support of two pieces of legislation that ACT helped draft. Below is a brief summary on each piece of legislation. ACT is asking its members to take a few moments and send a letter of support to its member of Congress for each of these pieces of legislation. Boilerplate letters can be found on the ACT public policy page at www.actweb.org Once you have completed the letters, please place them on electronic letterhead, and send them to Jason Pavluchuk via email at Jasonp325@aol.com. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Jason via email, or by phone at 202-285-6414. GREEN ROUTES TO WORK (HR 3271) Green Routes to Work is bi-partisan legislation introduced by Congressman Blumenauer (D-OR), Congressman Kirk (R-IL) and Congressman McGovern (D-MA). This legislation is the compilation of a 10 tax provisions which are aimed at getting employers more involved with their employee’s commutes. Specifically, the legislation would: 1. make permanent the $230 the tax exclusion for both vanpool & transit; also knows as the transit benefit and parking fringe benefits; 2. make the increased transportation fringe benefit available to all federal employees; 3. make self-employed individuals eligible for transit pass fringe benefits; 4. include employer-established parking cash-out programs as a qualified transportation fringe benefit; 5. establish a 10% vanpool investment tax credit 6. establish a tax credit for subsidizing tax-free transit passes to employees; 7. allow a general business tax credit for expenditures to improve access for bicycle commuters; 8. allow employees to receive transit passes and reimbursements of bicycle commuting expenses as tax-exempt employer-provided fringe benefits in the same month; 9. allow an employer's election to expense the cost of removing architectural and transportation barriers to bicycle commuter access to employer facilities; and 10. allow a tax credit for teleworking expenses, up to $400 per year. COMMUTE Less (HR 3517) Much like GRTW, COMMUTE Less is aimed at getting employers more involved with their employees commutes. However, while GRTW is a tax bill, COMMUTE Less focuses on getting employers more involved using grant funding and the planning provisions. COMMUTE Less was introduced by Congressman Sires (D-NJ) and it includes 4 basic provisions: 1. Amends the Federal highway and transit laws by requiring MPOs to establish employer advisory councils and by amending planning procedures to include employers in the plan development and project selection process. 2. Sets aside $300 million/year from CMAQ for employer based commute benefit programs 3. Requires ‘New Start’ project sponsors to include a plan on increasing transit ridership by including and establishing employer based transit benefit programs 4. Requires project sponsors of any highway project which is larger then $100 million or will close lanes for more then 120 days to cerate and execute a commute trip reduction program along the effected corridor. This plan shall be developed in consultation with employers in the region. These are two very important pieces of legislation and ACT is hopeful that its membership will actively support them. Again, if you have any questions, please contact Jason Pavluchuk at 202-285- 6414. EPA Announces Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases On September 23rd, the EPA issued their Final Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule. This new program will cover approximately 85 percent of the nation’s GHG emissions and apply to roughly 10,000 facilities. According to EPA, this new reporting system will provide a better understanding of where GHGs are coming from and will guide development of the best possible policies and programs to reduce emissions. The data will also allow businesses to track their own emissions, compare them to similar facilities, and provide assistance in identifying cost effective ways to reduce emissions in the future. This comprehensive, nationwide emissions data will help in the fight against climate change. The rule requires reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large sources and suppliers in the United States, and is intended to collect accurate and timely emissions data to inform future policy decisions. Under the rule, suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial greenhouse gases, manufacturers of vehicles and engines, and facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of GHG emissions are required to submit annual reports to EPA. The gases covered by the proposed rule are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and other fluorinated gases including nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and hydrofluorinated ethers (HFE). The rule does not cover VMT.
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