Bush seeks funds for carrier safety

April 1, 2004 By    

The feds want states to beef up their watch of hazmat carriers, and they’re asking Congress for hundreds of millions of dollars to help states do the job.

The Bush administration submitted its 2005 budget request, which begins next October. It seeks $227 million for motor carrier safety grants, including $217 million for commercial motor vehicle safety and $10 million for hazmat safety.

The Motor Carrier Safety Administration would give $168 million of the total in motor carrier safety assistance program state grants for compliance reviews, apprehending violators, inspections and audits of new carriers.

The budget also earmarks $33 million for safety measures at the Canadian and Mexican borders. Another $22 million would go to help state prevent unqualified drivers from operating commercial vehicles. The agency also wants $4 million to link registration systems with safety data to identify unsafe carriers.

The budget request also includes:

  • $1.8 billion for the regular appropriation for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, an increase of $11 million. The Administration for Children & Families sought $100 million – a doubling from its $99 million – for the emergency contingency fund.
  • $291 million for weatherization, a 28 percent hike to weatherize about 118,900 homes. The Department of Energy estimates that every $1 spent weatherizing homes saves $1.30 in energy costs.
  • $70 million for the Office of Pipeline Safety. Because of reduced bobtail fees (March 2003 column), the Research & Special Programs Administration expects to collect only $6 million in fees, whereas it had previously collected about $20 million a year.
  • $65 million for the Clean School Bus USA program, a leap from $5 million. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency received more than 120 applications requesting nearly $60 million, but could only fund 17 projects. Although it hasn’t funded any propane-based projects, an EPA spokesperson says the agency would welcome applications. See www.epa.gov/cleanschoolbus/.
  • $46 million for State Energy Program grants. DOE proposes cutting funding by $3 million, asking states to look for other money to design energy efficiency programs.
  • $5 million for the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve.
  • $5 million for Energy Star, an increase of $1.3 million. DOE has set goals of increasing Energy Star-approved appliance use from 15 percent in 2001 to 19 percent in 2005 and 22 percent by 2010. It also wants to increase Energy Star window use from 25 percent to 55 percent in the same period.

Alternative fuel mandates
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has decided against requiring private operators and local governments to buy alternate-fueled vehicles. OEERE determined that a requirement would not appreciably increase the percentage of alternative fuel and replacement fuel used by motor vehicles in the United States.

LIHEAP funding
Only a handful of states turn administration of energy subsidies such as LIHEAP to local governments, according to a recent survey by the General Accounting Office.

Only nine states contract for provision of benefits. Fifteen said they could provide 86 percent or more of all eligible applicants requesting heating assistance, while 12 more said they could serve 61-85 percent. Six states said they served between 16-60 percent.

Six states didn’t answer the question and 12 said they didn’t keep track. Also, the figures don’t include eligible households that don’t apply

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