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Coalition Makes Final Push for 2017 Legislative Priorities

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August 29, 2017

With the Legislature back in session last week, the Coalition began work on its goals for the rest of 2017: pushing through bill amendments and advocating for more renewable natural gas truck incentive funding from both cap-and-trade revenues and Volkswagen settlement money.

The Coalition spent the summer break gearing up for the Legislature’s major debates. Lawmakers must vote on several transportation-related bills, decide how to allocate $1.4 billion in cap-and-trade funds, and determine the Legislature’s role in distributing the Volkswagen settlement funds before the session ends on Sept. 15.

“Clean trucks should be a bipartisan endeavor, so we’re calling on members of both parties and multiple industries to do what it takes to get cleaner trucks on the road as fast as possible,” said Thomas Lawson, Coalition president.

“We cannot allow ourselves to be divided,” he added. “All of us must work together to get as much funding as we can to clean up transportation. We don’t have to fund 2030 goals with this money—let’s focus on improving air quality today.”

Keeping NGVs in the mix
Immediately, the Coalition got back to work on passing AB 1073, and making sure that AB 544 and AB 739 are favorable to the NGV industry.

The Coalition wants AB 544, which would extend HOV lane access for single-occupant vehicles, to include NGVs along with other ultralow- and zero-emission vehicles. AB 739 would require that by Dec. 31, 2025, at least 15 percent of all state-purchased heavy-duty vehicles be zero emission; the Coalition is seeking an amendment to include near-zero-emission trucks. Finally, the Coalition wants to ensure that AB 1073, which extends funding for zero- and near-zero-emission heavy-duty trucks to Dec. 31, 2020, is passed as written.

Divvying up 2017 cap-and-trade funds
AB 398 extended the cap-and-trade program, but the hard work has just begun. The Legislature must decide how to divvy up the $1.4 billion in revenue it has yet to allocate for 2017.

On Aug. 21, Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) suggested that the state spend $1 billion on replacing old, dirty engines, including funding for new tractors in rural areas and better trucks for smaller operators. He called on the state to make greater investments in reducing vehicular pollutants, saying to the Los Angeles Times, “We have a historic opportunity to bring businesses, conservatives, and liberals alike together on the issue of clean air.”

The Coalition is lobbying for $75 million from the pot to fund incentives to move from diesel engines to near-zero-NOx NGV engines.

Seeking a share of Volkswagen settlement funds
California expects to receive $422 million from the Environmental Mitigation Fund, created to receive settlement money from the Volkswagen “cheat software” lawsuits. The state must allocate money from the fund to projects that immediately combat the effects of excessive NOx emissions resulting from the cheating devices installed on some Volkswagen models.

The Coalition is advocating that the state spend 74 percent of these funds on replacing older medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses with near-zero- and zero-emission technologies in the near term.

The legislative session adjourns on Sept. 15, so time is tight to meet these goals. Sept. 8 is the last day to amend a bill on the floor, and legislators must vote on all bills by Sept. 15. By Oct. 15 Gov. Brown must sign or veto all bills the Legislature passes.

Photo ©Westport Innovations, used by permission

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