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U.S. Legislative Issues - January 2020


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Release date: 1/20/2020

IRS Issues Guidance on How to Claim Reinstated Fuel Tax Credits
 
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued guidance claimants must follow to make a one-time claim for payment of the credits and payments allowable under §§ 6426(c), 6426(d), and 6427(e) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) for biodiesel (including renewable diesel) mixtures and alternative fuels sold or used during calendar years 2018 and 2019.
 
Congress recently reinstated the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit retroactively through 2022, and the $0.50-per-gallon alternative fuels tax credit through 2020, as part of a year-end tax and spending deal. The deal also provides a credit for purchases made during the 2018 and 2019 tax years. The reinstatement of the tax credits was the result of a significant advocacy push from NAFA and allied organizations.
 
There is a 180-day claim period for 2018 - 2019 biodiesel and alternative fuel incentives, which begins on February 14, 2020. Claims must be filed on or before August 11, 2020. The IRS is directing companies to submit both 2018 and 2019 claims on a single Form 8849 along with a completed Schedule 3: Certain Fuel Mixtures and the Alternative Fuel Credit.
 
NAFA recommends members consult with a qualified tax professional for assistance in filing claims. Questions may also be directed to the IRS at (202) 317-4718.
 
House Committee Moves Sustainability Focused Bills Forward
 
On January 9th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Energy Subcommittee held a markup to pass several bills, which will now go to the full committee for consideration. Among the bills, three were of particular note for NAFA:
 

  • H.R. 5518 would reauthorize the Energy Department’s Clean Cities Coalition Program to encourage the use of alternative fuels and vehicles at $50 million beginning in fiscal 2020. That level would increase to $100 million in fiscal 2024. NAFA was a part of a coalition letter sent to members of the E&C Subcommittee on January 8th in support of the bill.
 
  • H.R. 2906, the Clean Commute for Kids Act, would reauthorize and update the Clean School Bus Program. The Clean School Bus Program offers competitive grant funding for modernizing school bus fleets. The bill broadens grant eligibility criteria to include electric vehicles and provides prioritization for applicants seeking to acquire clean school buses with low or zero emissions. The program would be reauthorized at $50 million annually from FY 2020-2025.
 
  • H.R. 5545, the New Opportunities to Expand Healthy Air Using Sustainable Transportation (NO EXHAUST) Act, would promote U.S. manufacture and use of advanced, fuel-efficient vehicles, and zero-emission vehicles. The bill would create a new program to provide rebates to offset the cost of purchasing and installing new EV charging stations. The bill also increases the percentage of alt fueled vehicles that federal agencies must acquire, sets minimum requirements for the percentage of alt fueled vehicles that must be zero-emission vehicles, increases the requirement for federal use of alt fuels, and includes a new requirement to reduce federal fleet greenhouse gas emissions. 
 
NAFA Comments on Senate Data Privacy Proposals
 
With the debate on federal privacy data privacy standards escalating at the end of 2019, NAFA has been active in communicating with policymakers on the importance of access to certain vehicle-related data for fleet management. In December, Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) published his draft United States Consumer Data Privacy Act (USCDPA) and Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has introduced her privacy bill S.2968, the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA).
 
NAFA sent a letter Chairman Wicker on January 6th, and a letter to Ranking Member Cantwell on January 9th commenting on their respective privacy standard proposals. Both proposals stand to address employee data and could negatively impact a fleet manager's ability to optimize their fleets’ processes. Vehicle-generated data, like telematics data, is an essential and useful resource for many fleets and their organizations. NAFA is working to preserve data access and give employers the flexibility to use that data while at the same time ensuring that employees are aware of transparent policies regarding data collection and use. 
 
Clean Economy by 2050 Legislative Framework Circulated by House Members
 
House Energy and Commerce Democratic leadership released the legislative framework on January 8th for a broad bill that calls for the U.S. to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas pollution no later than 2050, the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act. The CLEAN Future Act will have an extensive title for transportation policies, which is expected to raise vehicle efficiency and emissions standards, as well as bolster EV charging infrastructure, DERA, and the Clean Cities Program. The legislative text of the draft should be released by the end of the month.
 
EPA Announces Rulemaking on Heavy-Duty Truck Emissions
 
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced on January 6th that the agency was releasing an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to establish new, more stringent emission standards for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and other pollutants for heavy-duty engines through its Cleaner Trucks Initiative. The EPA is seeking public input on its forthcoming rulemaking, which would implement the first revisions to the NOx emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks since January 2001. Additionally, the EPA has published a fact sheet outlining its priorities and goals for the forthcoming notice of proposed rulemaking.
 
DOT Publishes AV 4.0 Guidance
 
On January 8th, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao released the Automated Vehicles 4.0 (AV 4.0) Report, guidance outlining how the federal government will be promoting unified federal rules across the various departments and agencies for the development of self-driving car technology. Secretary Chao voiced concerns over companies taking testing and development of AVs out of the U.S., due to the patchwork of state regulations governing the technology at present. At least 29 states already have some laws related to AVs, while federal AV legislation has failed to advance in Congress.
 
The administration’s guidance wants to foster AV testing in the U.S by seeking “performance-based” regulations, which are not overly prescriptive in their requirements on AV developers. Currently, companies that wish to develop AV’s are beholden to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and must apply for exemptions with NHTSA to test AV technologies.
 
NAFA supports the expansion of legislation and regulations on AV technology that ensures the safety of drivers and the public, while also encouraging the advancement of mobility options and potentially life-saving technologies.