Environmental Concerns

While the public benefits of electric vehicles are becoming increasingly clear, they continue to represent only a small percentage—a little over 1 percent—of new vehicle annual sales in the United States. State legislatures have numerous strategies at their disposal they can deploy to help improve the marketplace for electric vehicles, from helping to expand electric vehicle charging access to encouraging the electrification of public fleets. California and New Hampshire are two states at different stages in their efforts to advance the electric vehicle marketplace. CSG spoke recently with two legislators who have been responsible for enacting related measures in those states.

There have been a variety of activities in the world of autonomous vehicles this spring and summer. Here’s a roundup of the most recent federal, state and local policy actions, industry developments and research reports on the topic.

I have an article in this week’s issue of CSG’s The Current State wrapping up the various perspectives on the prospects for infrastructure investment in 2018 that were proffered during Infrastructure Week last month in Washington. But another topic that received some attention from various I-Week speakers and participants involved something else emphasized in President Trump’s infrastructure plan issued in February: streamlining the process by which infrastructure projects receive the go-ahead to move forward, which can often produce years-long project delays.

Sales of electric vehicles have risen dramatically in recent years. From advantages such as increased fuel economy and energy security, to tax incentives for consumers and emissions reductions, electric vehicles offer a host of benefits. While the federal government offers incentives and other programs relating to electric vehicles, states, both individually and collaboratively, are developing their own policies in relation to these new vehicle technologies.

State lawmakers from nine states attended the CSG Policy Academy on Electric and Alternative Fuel Vehicles August 7-8, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. The group heard how state and local government programs in the area are encouraging the proliferation of such vehicles. Representatives of the automotive industry and energy sector also took part in the event. Speakers also discussed California’s unique legislative landscape and policy efforts to encourage ultra-low carbon transportation. Finally, attendees got a chance to see electric vehicle charging infrastructure and other sustainable transportation programs in the Seattle region. This meeting archive includes PowerPoint presentations from several policy academy speakers, photos from the event and additional resources and links for further reading.

The operator of the Indiana Toll Road announced this month it would seek bankruptcy protection with a creditor-supported restructuring plan. While the toll road was one of the first transportation public-private partnerships (P3s) in this country, it hasn’t really proven to be the model for other P3s as some believed it would. And, at least for now, it appears the bankruptcy will have little impact either on motorists who use the facility or on the burgeoning P3 industry in the United States. I also have a roundup of recent reports from the American Society of Civil Engineers and Eno Center for Transportation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Plus the usual collection of links on MAP-21 reauthorization, the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state transportation funding initiatives, P3s and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

The Highway Trust Fund is staring down an insolvency crisis due to diminishing gas tax revenues. Central to this development are increasing fuel efficiency standards of gas powered vehicles and the roll-out of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), which are not subject to the gas tax in most states. However, there are more cars on the roads now than ever, and many of them are powered by alternative fuels like natural gas, propane, and electricity. Are drivers of those vehicles paying their fair share for maintaining roads and bridges? Some states have enacted flat registration and licensing fees to address these issues.

In October of 2013, eight state governors signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU),  committing to coordinated efforts to  ensure the successful implementation of each state's Zero Emission Vehicle programs. This ZEV Action Plan is made up of 11 key steps to achieving widespread deployment of electric vehicles. It includes aggressive promotion of electric vehicles and of electric vehicle-friendly policies as a means of cleaning up transportation and stimulating job growth. 

The Senate Finance Committee Thursday began consideration of a proposal to keep the Highway Trust Fund temporarily afloat but left town for the 4th of July holiday break without voting on the measure as chairman Ron Wyden sought to gain support of Senate Republicans. I also have my usual weekly roundup of news items and links on MAP-21 reauthorization, the future of the HTF, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies.

The federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of money even earlier than expected this summer, according to new data released this week. That’s likely to make it even tougher for Congress to come up with a funding solution in time and it has many in Washington and around the country concerned about what would be an unprecedented situation for state transportation programs. I also have the usual collection of links to items on state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies.

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