Bush said the law will create $14.5 billion in tax cuts over the next decade and provide incentives to domestic oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy suppliers and alternative energy sources.
“This bill is not going to solve our energy challenges overnight,” Bush said. “Most of the serious problems, such as high gasoline costs or the rising dependence on foreign oil, have developed over decades. It’s going to take years of focused effort to alleviate those problems.”
The law creates the Diesel Truck Retrofit and Fleet Modernization Program. It allows public agencies to compete for $100 million in grants over three years for diesel retrofits or newer equipment. Additionally, carriers will be eligible for $200 million in retrofit grants through the bill’s Diesel Emissions Reduction provision.
It also provides $94.5 million in grants for idle reduction and energy conservation technologies through the SmartWay Transport Partnership over three years. SmartWay is an Environmental Protection Agency program in which fleets and other parties voluntarily work to reduce energy consumption and emissions.
The ATA credits the bill as clarifying the tire excise tax and requiring study of how much of it is collected annually.
The final bill dropped the Bush goal of opening Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Still, congressional supporters expect to pass that provision in a spending bill later this year, according to a State Department report.
The new law will extend daylight savings time by one month, beginning in 2007.
The Senate passed the 1,724-page bill 74-26 July 29 after the House passed it 275-156 the day before.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, praised the law as improving energy supplies, conservation and developing the new energy technologies. Still, he stated it lacks mandatory measures to reduce global warming and would not significantly reduce foreign oil dependence.
Truck-related Fatalities Increase 3 percent
Highway fatalities involving large trucks increased 3 percent, from 5,036 in 2003 to 5,190 in 2004, announced the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
That trend contrasted with 42,636 overall highway fatalities, which NHTSA said was the lowest since record-keeping began 30 years ago. The number of alcohol-related fatalities also dropped for the second straight year.
“We anticipate the vehicles-miles-traveled/large truck fatality numbers due this fall from the Federal Highway Administration to confirm that truck safety continues to improve,” said Mike Russell, spokesman for the American Trucking Associations. ATA often points to the rate of fatalities per million miles traveled as a more accurate gauge of truck safety.
Eric Bolton, a NHTSA spokesperson, said that numbers give no suggestion of who was at fault, or why the accident occurred.
“We only look at the numbers of instances, there is no fault. All we are doing is quantifying the accidents that occur and what kinds of vehicles were involved,” Bolton said.