H.R. 3246: Advanced Vehicle Technology Act of 2009

H.R. 3246

Advanced Vehicle Technology Act of 2009

Sponsor
Rep. Gary C. Peters

Date
September 16, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

H.R. 3246 is being considered on the floor under a rule on Wednesday, September 16, 2009. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) on July 17, 2009 and referred to the Committee on Science and Technology. The Committee marked-up the bill and passed it, as amended, by a voice vote July 29, 2009.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3246 authorizes funds for research and development for a broad range of technologies and manufacturing processes for new vehicles, medium and heavy duty commercial and transit vehicles, Class 8 long haul trucks, and non-road vehicles.

The bill creates a new program at the Department of Energy (DoE) to conduct basic and applied research, development, and commercial application activities on materials, technologies and manufacturing processes to decrease and/or eliminate vehicle dependence on petroleum. The bill specifies that among the technologies to be studied are hybridization, full electrification, batteries, waste heat recovery, vehicle weight reduction, and anything that the Secretary determines worthy of research.

H.R. 3246 requires that private manufacturers (as well as the private fuel producers and energy supplies) be partnered with and collaborated with where possible.  The bill requires the Secretary to determine whether a wide range of companies that manufacture or assemble vehicles or components in the United States are represented in ongoing public private partnership activities, including firms that have not traditionally participated in federally sponsored research and development activities, and where possible, partner with such firms that conduct significant and relevant research and development activities in the U.S.

H.R. 3246 also encourages the DoE to leverage the capabilities and resources of industry-led stakeholder organizations, etc. for education and research purposes. H.R. 3246 requires that there be interagency coordination on all research, development, and commercial application, and federal demonstration of new technologies. The bill also requires the DoE to conduct research and development in the areas of sensing and communication technologies, and manufacturing technologies (to reduce waste streams, recycle and manufacture used batteries, etc.)

H.R. 3246 requires the DoE to conduct research, development, demonstration, and commercial application activities on advanced technologies for medium- to heavy-duty commercial and transit vehicles (including energy efficiency, waste heat recovery, energy emissions control systems, etc.) The bill requires that the Secretary appoint a full-time Director to coordinate research, development, demonstration, and commercial application activities to medium- and heavy-duty commercial and transit vehicle technologies. The Director would regularly conduct workshops, site visits, demonstrations, conferences, etc. to share information on research and development.

The bill also authorizes a new competitive grant program to demonstrate advanced technologies on long haul Class 8 trucks to improve their fuel efficiency.

H.R. 3246 requires the Secretary of Energy to commence a pilot program of research and development to improve efficiency for heavy duty non-road equipment.

The bill authorizes $2.85 billion over five years for these research and development programs.

Background

DoE currently funds a wide range of research activities on passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks through its Vehicle Technologies program. Over the last decade, federal research priorities shifted between passenger and heavy duty vehicles, as well as diesel-hybrids, hydrogen-fueled, and battery-powered drive systems. The DoE has addressed
research needs through two public-private research programs: The 21st Century Truck Partnership (21CTP), which conducts research and development through collaborations with the heavy-duty trucking industry, and the FreedomCar and the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative programs, which engages in pre-competitive, high-risk research needed to develop technologies that will apply to a range of affordable passenger cars and light trucks.

Some Members may have concerns with the cost of the bill, as well as the possible duplicative nature of the new programs and subsidizes authorized. Furthermore, with concerns over a growing deficit, Members may want to ensure that authorized recipients and projects do not "double dip" with previously funded initiatives.

Cost

H.R. 3246 authorizes appropriations totaling $2.85 billion over the 2010-2014 period for the Department of Energy. Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would cost $2.43 billion over the 2010-2014 period and $423 million after 2014. Enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues.

Amendments

1) Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN):  The amendment would require the Secretary of Energy to report to Congress after 18 months, and annually thereafter through 2015, on the technologies developed, the success of the adopted technologies for commercial applications, and whether those technologies are manufactured in the United States.  The amendment also amends certain reporting requirements to clarify that the Secretary must submit the report to Congress annually; and it expands the non-road systems program from heavy duty non-road equipment to mobile non-road equipment.

2) Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA):  The amendment freezes authorization amounts at FY 2010 levels through FY 2013 and cut funding in FY 2014.

3) Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA):  The amendment would require that at the end of each fiscal year the Secretary must submit to the relevant Congressional committees an annual report describing activities undertaken in the previous year, active industry participants, efforts to recruit new participants, progress of the program in meeting goals and timelines, and a strategic plan for funding of activities across agencies.

4) Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO):  The amendment would include retrofitting advanced vehicle technologies to existing vehicles as an area of research under the bill.

5) Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL)/Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL):  The amendment would create a new grant program, the Innovative Automotive Demonstration Program, within the Vehicle Technologies Program, to make competitively awarded grants for the purpose of demonstrating and bringing to market very high efficiency vehicles achieving at least 70 miles per gallon.

6) Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI):  The amendment would require industry participation in the vehicle research and development program to include manufacturers of all qualified plug-in electric vehicles.

7) Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ):  The amendment would include agricultural and construction equipment in the non-road systems pilot program. 

8) Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA):  The amendment would require that research into refueling and recharging infrastructure for alternative and hybrid fuel vehicles include the "unique challenges facing rural areas."

9) Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN):  The amendment adds multiple battery chemistries and novel energy storage devices, including nonchemical batteries and electromechanical storage technologies such as hydraulics, flywheels, and compressed air storage to the list of eligible technologies for the proposed program. 

10) Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)/Rep. Mark Sounder (R-IN)/Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR):  The amendment would include recreational vehicles as eligible under the Medium and Heavy Duty Commercial and Transit Vehicles research and development program.

11) Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA):  The amendment would require the Secretary of Energy to research and develop methods of reducing waste and emissions from advanced battery technology and methods to increase advanced battery calendar and cycle life.

12) Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY):  The amendment would authorize support for public-private partnerships and industry programs that seek to overcome barriers to commercial production and application of transformational vehicle technologies that utilize such industry-led facilities.