Heavy Duty Trucking

JUL 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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12 HDT • JULY 2014 www.truckinginfo.com Among the cheerleaders was Sen. Carper. "Multiple bailouts of the Highway Trust Fund have added more than $54 billion to our nation's debt since 2009," Carper said. "I still believe that re-establishing the purchasing power of the fuel tax is the best policy for funding our federal transportation program. I am glad to see that this idea is gaining more bipartisan support as Congress continues to grapple with the need to shore up the High- way Trust Fund before it becomes insolvent this summer." But it is hard for Congress to raise taxes any time, and doubly difficult with mid-term elections in Novem- ber that give Republicans a chance to take control of the Senate. Sen. Wyden, who chairs the Finance Committee that has responsibility for the issue, said he supports the idea of finding $10 billion to get the Trust Fund into next year. He was not ready to say where the $10 billion would come from. Another bid came from Rep. Peter DeFazio, D- Ore., who suggested repealing the per-gallon gasoline fuel tax and replacing it with a $6.75 barrel tax on oil, indexed to construction cost inf lation and f leet fuel economy. The 24.4-cent diesel tax would be treated sepa- rately. It would be indexed to inf lation and f leet fuel economy, a move that would in effect raise the tax to about 26 cents in the first year, and to about 47 cents over a decade. Rep. DeFazio also proposed bonding the new revenue to support the Trust Fund. He said these measures would pay for a six-year highway bill. ATA's position In a related development, ATA reconsidered its policy on highway funding and added seven alternatives to its bedrock commitment to the federal fuel tax. Recogniz- ing that Congress may not have the political will to raise the fuel tax, ATA came up with list of alterna- tives that it will accept: • Index the fuel tax based on price, the Consumer Price Index, or the estimated impact of improved fuel ef- ficiency. • Use the proceeds from repatriation of overseas capi- tal. The Obama administration and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., both have proposed variations on that theme, as has Rep. John Delaney, D-Md. • Issue Treasury bonds subsidized with revenue from indexing the fuel tax. • Impose an annual highway access fee for all motor- ists who use the roadways. • Use royalties from new oil and gas leases. • Impose a per-barrel tax on imported oil and domes- tic crude production. • As a last resort, a short-term transfer from the Gen- eral Fund to the Highway Trust Fund. The deadline for a decision is probably sometime in July. The Obama administration has warned that if the Highway Trust Fund goes into the red, states will have to pull the plug on their projects and as many as 700,000 people could be out of work. WASHINGTONreport t "It kicks the can down the road yet again on two pressing issues — fixing the Postal Service and the Highway Trust Fund — and fails to solve either problem." – Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. GAO: Defense Department needs to step up hazmat controls The Department of Defense needs to do a better job handling hazardous materials, says the Government Ac- countability Office. Hazmat shipments have been improperly document- ed and packaged, leading to delays and risks to safety and national security, the watchdog agency found. Part of the problem is that hazmat shipping is governed by a complex web of laws and regulations administered by different civilian and military agencies, GAO said. At least 44 times over a two-year period, DoD did not provide hazmat carriers access to secure areas where they could hold shipments of arms, ammunition, or explosives. It was an infrequent occurrence — there were more than 70,000 such shipments during that period — but even that small percentage creates a risk to safety and security, GAO said. Another challenge is that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's data system is not reliable, GAO said. The agency referenced a report it posted last February saying that the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability safety enforcement system's data limits its usefulness as a predictor of crash risk. The agency also noted that FMCSA disagreed with and challenged this assessment. GAO recommended that the Defense Department find out what is causing the improper documentation and packaging. The department also should make sure that all its facilities provide secure holding areas for sen- sitive shipments, and should see if it needs to make any changes in the way it determines carrier eligibility.

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