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June 16, 2011

06/17/11 Thursday, Congressman Joe Donnelly reintroduced his bipartisan legislation, The Municipal Fleet Modernization Act, with Michigan Congressman Thad McCotter.  The Municipal Fleet Modernization Act would require that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) update its High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) exception list annually so local governments have a larger domestic selection of eligible energy-efficient vehicles to choose from.

“Here in Indiana, we know the importance of the American auto industry to our local economy,” said Donnelly.  “This common-sense, regular update of the HOV exception list will encourage local governments and municipalities to purchase energy-efficient vehicles like hybrids made by car companies right here at home.  Local governments should have an American-made option.”

Local governments and municipalities can use Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program funds through the U.S. Department of Transportation to purchase public-owned fleet vehicles, provided the vehicles meet certain EPA guidelines.  Currently, the Federal Highway Administration directs local governments interested in purchasing energy-efficient vehicles with CMAQ funds to an EPA list of vehicles meeting low emissions and energy efficiency requirements under HOV exception regulations. 

EPA published the last official list in 2007.  No American hybrid cars were on the list, and only eight energy-efficient American trucks were on the list.  After Donnelly introduced The Municipal Fleet Modernization Act last Congress, bringing this issue to the attention of the EPA, four energy-efficient American cars and 37 energy-efficient American trucks were added to a draft list in June 2010.  However, uncertainty remains, because even though local governments are being directed to the June 2010 list, the list is still only a draft.  Additionally, more American vehicles would be expected to qualify on future lists if they were to be updated annually as Donnelly’s legislation would require.

Donnelly’s legislation would require this list be updated on an annual basis to ensure that all qualifying American energy-efficient vehicles are included.  Therefore, local governments and municipalities would have additional American-made options when purchasing vehicles with CMAQ Program funding.