Initial reports are that the final version of the federal Economic Stimulus Package includes more than $150 billion in public works projects for transportation, energy and technology. Trucking, like many other industries, is sure to feel some impact from such a super-sized spending plan, but exactly what that will be is still anybody’s guess. One thing, however, is abundantly clear--green is the color of the stimulus package no matter how you look at it.
Earlier versions of the plan included several programs that could impact the trucking industry in general and green technologies in particular if they are retained in the final version. Chief among these is $300 million to fund the existing Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) which provides grants and loans to state and local governments for projects that reduce diesel emissions, including idle reduction programs. In 2008, $49.2 million was allocated for the program, so this would represent a substantial increase.
There are several other items in earlier versions of the plan that might also give alternative power and emissions reduction efforts a boost, including $200 million for a new grant program to encourage electric vehicle technologies and $2 billion for the Advanced Battery Loan Guarantee and Grants Program to support U.S. manufacturers of advanced vehicle batteries and battery systems.
Trucks and buses that run on alternative fuel were also up for $400 million in support, aimed at helping states and local governments purchase these vehicles. The federal fleet was slated for a grant of $600 million as well to replace older vehicles with alternative-fuel vehicles. In addition to these clean and green initiatives, there are billions of dollars marked for highway construction and transit and rail projects.