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Request

Action: Notice, request for comments.

Web posting date: 04/12/2013

Federal Register Notice of Finding Publication Date: 06/17/13

Effective Date of Federal Register: 06/18/13

Close of public comment period: 07/03/13

Summary: The FHWA proposes to grant a waiver from Buy America, on the basis that such waiver is in the public interest, for vehicle projects that are to be funded with Federal-aid highway funds on the condition that such vehicles, including projects to retrofit vehicles with individual vehicle components, are assembled in the United States. The vehicle projects subject to this proposed waiver (including the State in which the project is located, the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) project number, and the descriptions and quantities of vehicles sought) can be viewed in the attached spreadsheet.

FHWA's Buy America requirements provide that 100 percent of all steel and iron that is permanently incorporated into a project must be domestically manufactured. With respect to vehicles, manufacturers typically assemble these products with many different components and subcomponents containing steel and iron. As a result, vehicles are typically referred to as being made where the final product rolls off the assembly line for delivery into the marketplace. The FHWA is unaware of any vehicle that is comprised of 100 percent domestically produced steel and iron, resulting in a need for a Buy America waiver for these projects to proceed.

The FHWA proposes to grant a waiver for 74 vehicle projects (including sedans, vans, pickups, SUVs, trucks, buses, and equipment, such as backhoes, street sweepers, and tractors) to enable FHWA recipients and subrecipients to use their Federal funds for such projects so long as the vehicle or modification is assembled in the United States. Because many vehicles, and components that may be needed for a retrofit, are assembled in the United States, the FHWA believes that it is in the public interest to process waivers for vehicles on the condition that vehicle projects are assembled in the United States. Such approach would give effect to the intent of Buy America by ensuring that Federal highway funds are used to support American jobs in a reasonable and meaningful way given the nature of the U.S. vehicle manufacturing industry.

FHWA will only consider a Buy America waiver when the conditions of 23 CFR 635.410( c) have been met: (1) when the application of the provision would be inconsistent with the public interest; or (2) when steel and iron products are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities, which are of a satisfactory quality.

The FHWA will consider all comments received in the initial 15-day comment period during our evaluation of the waiver request. Comments received after this period, but before notice of our finding is published in the Federal Register, will be considered to the extent practical. Follow-up coordination on the comments received may result in a delay in the publication of our waiver finding in the Federal Register. Comments received during the 15-day comment period after notice of our finding is published in the Federal Register will be reviewed, but the finding will continue to remain valid. Comments received during the comment period after the effective date of the finding will be reviewed, and may influence the FHWA's decision to terminate or modify a finding.

Comments

Richard A Douds 04/16/2013
I understand that there are machines and vehicles that are not made with 100% American Steel but are assembled here in the USA.

Is there a limit that we can use? For example; must be fabricated from 75% or more American produced Steel or are our steel mills not producing parts for machinery and vehicles?

Respectfully, Rick Douds Testing Bureau Chief Georgia Department of Transportation 15 Kennedy Dr. Forest Park, Ga 30187

Robert Tischbein 04/16/2013
I am against large, blanket, excape clauses from the "Buy America" policy. Our policy will keep getting watered down and we will see decreased native manufacturing capacity. If we strive for full employment for our citizens, policies that affect grass roots level employment must be protected.

Mike Schwartz 04/17/2013
There must be a minimum threshold for the "assembled" description. Otherwise, attaching the bucket to an excavator could be defined as assembled in USA.

For passenger vehicles and some trucks, the manufacturer's sticker lists the percentage of the vehicle that is "Made in USA". In those cases, a minimum of 60 to 75% should be specified.

Anne Tazewell 04/17/2013
Will the proposed waiver allow for other states with projects that support purchases of alternative fuel vehicle project to use waiver without going through the process of requesting a waiver as long as the conditions above are met ( final assembly in the U.S.)? I think a blanket waiver of this sort is very important for the air quality and energy diversity benefits that alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles provide. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important subject.

Chris Tavarez 04/17/2013
This Buy America Waiver is greatly needed, due to the way the CNG retrofit industry manufactures products it is impossible to satisfy the Buy America requirement without this waiver. TUL12-053 and TUL12-054 for the City of Visalia would retrofit 8 large trucks from diesel emissions to CNG emissions thus resulting in a significant reduction in emissions.

Nancy Loliva 04/17/2013
The City of Visalia is the owner of a full service compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling facility, with a dedicated slow-fill fueling area and a public fast fill fueling area would like to eventually convert all of its rolling stock to compressed natural gas. The City has researched all makes and models of refuse trucks and finds that not one of the manufacturers meets the 100% domestic iron and steel content requirement. All of the available CNG trucks either use parts and/or use iron or steel that is not manufactured in the United States. The City of Visalia warrants that once the new CNG refuse trucks are placed in service, the diesel powered refuse trucks being replaced will be dismantled and salvaged.

The City of Visalia appreciates all the past assistance in securing CMAQ funds to purchase CNG refuse trucks and transit buses. These CNG vehicles are more fuel efficient, cleaner burning, require less maintenance, significantly reduce pollutants in the valley and will meet EPA's low emission and efficiency requirements per CMAQ Guidelines. Your positive response to the City’s request for a waiver of the Buy America clause is appreciated.

Joseph Ochal 04/18/2013
I support MADE IN AMERICA 100% especially if the Federal Government is doing the purchasing with US tax payers dollars in one way or another.

The government must purchase 100% American made product to put Americans back to work. And if the Government does not see that issues, well they aren't needed in government and should have to find a job in the USA.

Also the uses of biofuel by our ships etc is a waste of money especially when the biofuel cost many times more that the normal fuels used in the past. What the government should give tax backs to the companies that produce scrubber to clean up the exhaust from gas, coal, etc. They should have given NASA the funding to develop new forms of clean fuels Guess what the space station uses to power it, Yep solar panels. THE USA had a brain trust that was abandoned for the sense of a dollars now instead of expanding the technology to be used here in the USA and the world. That's smart government.

To sum up, 100% built in the USA from the material to the finish product.

Thank you from asking us.

Mel Kennedy 04/18/2013
I absolutely agree with Mr. Tischbein's comment. Support American jobs and create new ones when possible. No waiver should be granted.

Tony Neveux 04/18/2013
No waiver should be granted. We need to support America. It is time to stare taking care of ourselves.

John D. Clements 04/18/2013
It would be wonderful if we could obtain a 100% American made 26,000 lbs. GVWR all electric powered zero emissions truck with a cold plate zero emissions refrigeration system.

The reality is the USA is part of a global economy and US based manufacturers have plants or suppliers supplying the electric vehicle components from all over the world.

These clean air vehicles do exist now and can be assembled in the United States of America by US workers in companies that have also received Federal ARRA stimulus funds to put our own workers to work.

Please grant the approval of the Buy America Waviers. To hold these funds hostage by failing to approve the Buy America Waiver Rules is preventing American assemblyline workers from benefiting from this work. To say NO means NO to some good paying electric vehicle jobs and NO to ZERO Emissions vehicles that benefit the air that we breath. Many of these alternative fuels or Zero emissions vehicles requesting the waivers are scheduled to be deployed in the worst air quality region of our nation.

Thank you for your consideration...

James Vorhies 04/19/2013
I support made in America 100%. As for our tax dollars being spent it should come back into our own funnel and recycled into our own system. No waiver should be granted. We need to keep our Industrial Industry on the cutting edge that means our support $$$. Hopefully GM and Ford can step up to Toyota Trucks as You Tube with Bass pro Shops can show you they make a awesome truck that is made here in the USA but engineered in Japan. IE less breakdowns and more turn key with no vehicle trouble wins...you can't go to war with a vehicle that keeps going to the motor pool for issues...

Si McMurray 04/19/2013
Regarding the purchase of transit buses listed on the STIP, I can't help but wonder if there is some confusion. The Buy America requirement found at 49 CFR 661.5 (Iron, Steel, and Manufactured Products) which requires 100% domestic content does not apply to buses and rolling stock. 49 CFR 661.11, on the other hand, does and it states, "The provisions of § 661.5 do not apply to the procurement of buses and other rolling stock (including train control, communication, and traction power equipment), if the cost of components produced in the United States is more than 60 percent of the cost of all components and final assembly takes place in the United States." As a matter of interest, the iron and steel used in building the buses we've purchased (and future purchases) is manufactured by companies in California and Washington. I'm very much in favor of "buy american" and keeping and growing jobs here, but the cold reality that bus manufacturers face is that many components needed to build a bus is just not produced by anyone here in the United States! I'm certain this is the reason 49 CFR 661.11 was written.

Will Wilkin 04/19/2013
The waiver would NOT be in the public interest because it would allow foreign-made steel and iron to substitute for US-made materials. Our country has lost 1/3 of our manufacturing since 2000, over 5 million mfg jobs and 54,000 factories.

Rather than request this waiver, the FHWA should propose stiff tariffs on foreign steel (and auto components generally) so that US-made materials will be used to make vehicles in the USA. Somebody somewhere has to put their foot down to end the disintegration of the American economy. All this narrow expediency, especially so-called "free trade," is ruining the country.

Robert Johns 04/20/2013
The reality of today's supply chains is such that certain assemblies/sub-assemblies are simply no longer produced in the United States. The average "domestic content" of autos assembled in the United States, for example, is in the 50-60% range. A minimum threshold needs to be thoughtfully constructed for a variety of products but such thresholds should not be subject to capricious manipulation or the intent to get America back to work (work funded by American taxpayers)will undoubtedly be compromised.

Joe Cipra 04/20/2013
Nucor steel produces 100% US/American made steel from sheet to special bar quality steel that is used in the automotive and heavy equipment industry. Nucor also managed to not lay off a single Nucor employee (22,000+) during this entire recession. Nucor has supported American manufacturing, it is reasonable to expect the federal government of the USA to do the same. 100% US steel is available. No waiver should be granted.

Adam Ennis 04/22/2013
We are in support of the “Buy America” waivers in the case of vehicle purchases such as this. In general we support “Buy America” requirements when reasonably possible to increase domestic production with grants and funding from U.S. Federal funding sources. However, in the case of vehicles and equipment there are several issues that arise which make the “Buy America” requirement impossible to meet. First, we have not been able to locate any vehicles manufactured entirely with domestically manufactured iron and steel, or from a single, or even a few, sources. Parts for vehicles come from many different places from around the world. In addition, many of the parts have sub-parts produced in different areas of the world. This results in potentially thousands of different parts from varying areas of the world that would have to be tracked down and documented in an attempt to meet the requirement, or even a reduced requirement, for steel and iron produced in the U.S. Second, with specialty vehicles such as garbage trucks, construction equipment and specialty machines some of the parts may not be produced, or even be available at all, in the United States. Due to these difficulties, US suppliers are very reluctant to certify that their vehicles or equipment consist of 100% domestic iron and steel. The main purpose for many of the Federal vehicle replacement grants available in the U.S. is to convert existing fleets and equipment to more efficient and environmentally friendly technologies. Not providing these waivers will drastically slow, if not stop, that effort. In addition, some of the parts are produced and vehicles assembled in the U.S., therefore not providing these waivers will decrease those jobs and production that do occur in the U.S. In the case of implementing these items time is critical.

Richard Battersby 04/22/2013
While I support the concept in general, in reality the "Buy Amercia" clause in these instances actually delays or prevents deployment of clean air vehicle and infrastructure projects.

If the Buy America waiver as detailed above is not approved, this will actually hurt US workers assembling vehicles right here in the US from globally sourced components. It is simply unrealistic and naive to demand a 100% domestic steel and iron content in vehicles considering today's global economy.

Leslie Caviglia 04/23/2013
I support the Buy American program, but also believe that reasonable waivers are needed. I have read about too many organizations who have tried to use the program in good faith and are now shackled by technicalities. Buying garbage trucks IS putting Americans to work. Let's learn, get this program rolling and literally move on.

Heather Pilkington - The Lift 04/24/2013
I have been in supply chain robotics and nuclear engineering and in the logistics of non-profit and small government transportation. This waiver is completely necessary. There are many companies that buy and sell iron and steel from companies overseas - creating the need for port, transportation, and wholesalers in OUR country. We're also seeing that this qualified ONLY one company (not price competitive) for vehicles that need to be replaced in our local government and thus driving up costs for funds already restricted from the sequester and government cutbacks that are needed. It's not practical until the supply chain catches up with the demand in replacement vehicles to ALL those affected. We are supporting jobs, but this is down too much to the nitty gritty legislating every last element.

Jane Dyer 04/24/2013
Buy America should not apply to vehicles at all. The FHWA version of the Buy America provision was designed to use US steel and iron on ‘permanent’ assets of the US Highway system, such as roads and bridges. Vehicles and trucks are not ‘permanent’ assets of the system. Alternative fuel vehicle purchases using FHWA money is mostly restricted to the CMAQ Program, which stands for Congestion Mitigation Air Quality. The sole purpose of that program, and the funding of alternative fuel vehicles in particular (there are other eligible activities), is to promote the technological advancement of vehicles and to reduce vehicular emissions from the US fleet and rolling stock, and secondarily to reduce this country’s dependence on foreign oil. Specifically, this pot of funding is directed at metropolitan areas in non-attainment of NAAQS, i.e., pollution levels so high they are a threat to human health. Recipients of CMAQ grant monies in non-attainment areas should be allowed the opportunity to purchase any of the cleanest vehicles available regardless of where the vehicle is manufactured in order to promote and achieve the stated goals of the program – improved air quality. According to the Steel Recycling Institute, the shell of a car is already a minimum of 25% recycled steel content. That percentage increases for other parts of the vehicle as well. Given the environmental benefits of recycling, wouldn’t it be more prudent to perhaps require a higher recycled steel percentage content, perhaps have that recycled content come from or be done in the US, rather than force grant recipients to shrink the number of vehicles they can purchase using these funds to achieve these important air quality goals? Let’s face it - if not for the Toyota Prius, the US automakers would still be a decade late in bringing hybrid, electric and other fuel efficient technology to America’s roads. Competition in this arena is good, because it forces the US OEMs to go to the drawing board and build a better, cleaner, technologically vehicle in order to gain customers. It is right to support using US tax dollars for American jobs. Allowing this waiver will continue to do so, through the dealerships and support networks that are local to every region and municipality. But in this day and age in the spectre of global warming and climate change, let’s not lose sight of the fact that this particular funding program is for clean vehicles and air quality. In that way, the funds are still supportive of the American public interest – which is public health.

Glenn Morris 04/25/2013
As a general matter of principal, we support the objectives of “Buy America” requirements. At the same time, we expect our elected and appointed leaders to maximize the value they receive for the tax dollars they spend. In many ways, at the local level, this issue plays out not as "Buy America," but "Buy Local," and the same two principles come into play. Spend your tax money as locally as possible, but not when doing so requires you to spend significantly more for the same product or service.

In the case of vehicles and equipment there appear to be several issues which make the “Buy America” requirement impossible to meet. First, the applicants have certified that they have not been able to locate any vehicles manufactured entirely with domestically manufactured iron and steel, or from a single, or even a few, sources. Parts for vehicles come from many different places from around the world. In addition, many of the parts have sub-parts produced in different areas of the world. This results in potentially thousands of different parts from varying areas of the world that would have to be tracked down and documented in an attempt to meet the requirement, or even a reduced requirement, for steel and iron produced in the U.S.

Second, with specialty vehicles such as garbage trucks, construction equipment and specialty machines some of the parts may not be produced, or even be available at all, in the United States. Due to these difficulties, US suppliers are very reluctant to certify that their vehicles or equipment consist of 100% domestic iron and steel. The main purpose for many of the Federal vehicle replacement grants available in the U.S. is to convert existing fleets and equipment to more efficient and environmentally friendly technologies.

Not providing these waivers will drastically slow, if not stop, major public works projects with all of their attendant benefits. In addition, some of the parts are produced and vehicles assembled in the U.S., therefore not providing these waivers will decrease those jobs and production that do occur in the U.S.

Requiring some minimum percentage of parts/materials to be sourced within the United States (or perhaps the US and its preferred trading partners) may be a workable solution and, if that proves to be the case, a reasonable compromise. Applicants should also be required to demonstrate that they have done full due diligence in exploring options to meet the requirements of the restrictions prior to requesting any waivers.

At the same time, this one public policy goal, admirable as it is, should not be allowed to block needed projects that clearly deliver significant policy benefits in other areas.

Ben Kimball 04/25/2013
Here in farm country, we are as red, white and blue as they come. We support American jobs and American people. We also happen to live in the worst, or second worst, air basin in the country (depending on the year). We do our best to maximize air quality improvements in the CMAQ program and have had much success in recent years getting the air cleaned up. My oldest son no longer has asthma issues living here.

Our local governments have found that large, clean energy vehicles that are used on a regular basis get a lot of pollution reduction for the dollars spent. They have the added benefit of providing important municipal services. That's a win-win. When you include the jobs that will be generated by those who assemble the vehicles(in America)and those who drive the vehicles (in America), that's a win-win-win.

We have also found that there is no way to certify that every, single, minute engine part has been fabricated in this country...at least not yet. The day may come when our large vehicle manufacturing industry can do that. That would be an appropriate time to require local governments to enforce the strict interpretation of 100%.

In the meantime, these vehicle requests have been in the process for a year and a half. If the waivers are not approved by this summer, it will be too late to reprogram the money and the CMAQ dollars for our air basin will be lost. Consequently, there would be no American job gains at all....just a lost opportunity.

With where these projects are in the pipeline, the most sensible thing to do right now is grant these waivers.

Kevin Brown, Regulatory Affairs Manager, CDTi Inc. 04/26/2013
Clean Diesel Technologies, Inc. is a US based manufacturer of a variety of advanced emission control products. We supply our products throughout North America, Europe and the rest of the world. We support this waiver request for all manufactured vehicle, equipment and emissions control retrofit products purchased under the CMAQ program. The primary goal of the CMAQ program is to afford clean air for Americans living in areas where air quality does not meet national standards and to encourage investment in clean air related technologies. CDTi operates manufacturing facilities Oxnard California, Reno Nevada and Markham Ontario. Our retrofit emission control products are verified by both the US EPA and CARB. These verified products are required under EPA and CARB verifications to employ specific components, which we manufacture in our facilities or source from key suppliers in the global automotive parts industry. All CDTi facilities source raw stainless and non-stainless steel to be used in our own manufacturing processes from exclusively US suppliers. We also source other higher value components and technologies intentionally from US based suppliers in Texas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, New York and Illinois. Due to the high technology nature of our industry, many of our suppliers are also small US companies. All of our own manufactured products and components sourced from our suppliers create value that support US based manufacturing wages. However, the steel employed in certain components (ie. electrical components, switches, housings, etc.) are manufactured where specific manufacturing investments or expertise exist. Certain Buy America requirements also nullify the US origin of employed steel if any fabrication occurs outside the US. It is not possible to guarantee that all steel and steel related processes will be performed in the United States for such specialized components which are required to be used under US EPA and CARB product verifications. Failure to provide waivers to manufactured products such as emission control devices is likely to result in employment losses in small US companies such as ours and our US based suppliers. In addition, it will hinder the clean air objectives of the CMAQ program resulting in continued poor air quality for Americans. From our perspective, it is essential that waivers be granted to for all manufactured vehicle, equipment and emissions control retrofit products purchased under the CMAQ program.

Kevin Brown Regulatory Affairs Manager, CDTi

Rasto Brezny 04/26/2013
The Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association (MECA) represents 44 North American companies that manufacture emission control technologies for mobile sources including the majority of diesel retrofit manufacturers. MECA member companies provide the advanced emission control devices that are used by air pollution non-attainment areas to achieve the goals of the CMAQ program. MECA supports this waiver request for all manufactured vehicle, equipment and emissions control diesel retrofit products purchased under the CMAQ program.

Emission control retrofit devices such as Verified Diesel Emission Control Systems (VDECS) are highly specialized and complex technologies made up of components that are often sourced from a single supplier. These include advanced catalysts and particulate filters as well as sophisticated electronic controls. In some of these devices a steel rather than ceramic substrate is required to support the catalyst that is the functional component within the VDECS. These verified products are required under EPA and CARB verification to employ specific components, which are sourced from key suppliers in the global automotive parts industry.

The steel employed in some components (ie. electronic controls, catalysts, switches, housings, etc.) are manufactured where specific expertise exists. Certain Buy America requirements fail to recognize the U.S. origin of employed steel if any fabrication occurs outside the US. It is not possible to guarantee that all steel components and steel related processes will be performed in the United States for such specialized advanced technology devices.

All of the manufactured products and components sourced by our industry create value that supports US based manufacturing wages. Our industry supports over 65,000 U.S. manufacturing and service jobs in the U.S. Failure to provide waivers for these technologically advanced manufactured products will result in employment losses in the green technology companies such as diesel retrofit manufacturers and their US based suppliers. Furthermore, it will hinder the clean air objectives of the CMAQ program resulting in continued poor air quality for Americans.

MECA believes that it is essential that waivers be granted to for all manufactured vehicle, equipment and emissions control retrofit products purchased under the CMAQ program.

Genevieve Cullen 04/29/2013
The Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) promotes the electrification of transportation as a critical path to energy, economic and environmental security. The United States spent more than a billion dollars a day on imported oil in 2012. Electric drive vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in and fuel cell electric vehicles, displace oil with domestically generated electricity that is cleaner, and cheaper.

The electric drive supply chain is still developing in the United States and abroad. The increasing growth of the global supply chain is reflected in increasing U.S. investment and employment in advanced vehicles and infrastructure. Nevertheless, it is still a suite of emerging technologies with an emerging supply chain.

In recognition of the importance of electric drive to national and economic security, diverse U.S. policies are reinforcing private and public investment in advanced technology vehicles and supporting infrastructure. The return on federal investment in alternative fuel vehicles is a more robust U.S. supply chain, with attendant jobs, and a more secure nation whose economic growth is not bound to a volatile global oil market.

FHWA policies should promote these investments as well. The FHWA has historically held that the iron and steel requirements of the Buy America provision do not apply to alternative fuel vehicles purchases because the vehicles would not be “permanently incorporated” into a Federal-aid project, as 23 CFR 635.410 requires. We believe this continues to the appropriate treatment of these vehicle assets. By adhering to its original policy, FHWA can advance the national interests in accelerating the adoption of oil alternatives and boosting U.S. competitiveness and employment in advanced vehicle technology and manufacturing.

In the interim, EDTA supports the Federal Highway Administration’s proposed waiver for the purchase of emerging technologies that enable state and regional fleet purchasers the flexibility to acquire the alternative fuel vehicles that serve their needs most effectively and maximizes the benefits of the federal investment.

Respectfully, Genevieve Cullen, Vice President EDTA

Jeffrey Clarke 05/02/2013
NGVAmerica respectfully submits the following comments in response to the FHWA’s planned approval of waivers for alternative fuel vehicle projects. We support the FHWA’s decision to grant these waiver requests as these projects have been in the planning process for quite some time and any further delay could jeopardize them and the benefits they would provide. Greater use of alternative fuel vehicles contribute to a number of important public policy objectives: cleaner air, reduced reliance on foreign oil, and increased use of domestic fuels. These policy objectives align well with those of the Buy America statute because greater use of alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicle technologies strengthens the U.S. economy by lowering fuel costs, reducing imports and encouraging use of domestic fuels. As the FHWA is well aware, the automotive industry is a complex one with vehicle parts sourced from all over the world. Even in the case of vehicles that are manufactured and assembled here in the U.S., the vehicle parts and components often include parts sourced from outside the U.S. It also is the case that automobiles and trucks manufactured outside the U.S. include parts and components that were made in the U.S. Because of this situation, it is likely that there are not any vehicles manufactured in the U.S. that are comprised of 100 percent U.S. steel or iron. The FHWA notice indicates that it is not aware of any such vehicles. Thus, FHWA concludes that a waiver for alternative fuel vehicles assembled here in the U.S. is justified even if these vehicles include components that are sourced from overseas.

In addition to granting this waiver, it is imperative that FHWA issue guidance clarifying how it intends to handle future waiver requests so companies can plan accordingly. This guidance should address how to handle vehicles manufactured outside the U.S. as gasoline or diesel vehicles that are imported to the U.S. and then retrofitted or modified here in the U.S. so that they can operate on alternative fuels. An example of this is the Ford Transit Connect, a vehicle that is manufactured in Turkey, shipped to the U.S. and then modified to operate on natural gas by installing fueling lines, injectors, fuel storage tanks and other necessary natural gas components. It is our understanding that the Transit Connect, as well as other vehicles, which are shipped to the U.S. and then modified or final assembled here in the U.S. to incorporate alternative fuel components would qualify for a waiver. A clear policy statement to this effect is needed.

We also urge FHWA to address the need for future waivers. Requiring case-by-case waiver requests is unnecessary and a poor use of time and resources if, in fact, there are no alternative fuel vehicles manufactured in the U.S. that comply with the 100 percent iron or steel content provision as required under the Buy America rules. Until such times as vehicles do satisfy such requirements, there does not seem to be a point to conducting future waiver proceedings as long as the assembled in U.S. requirement is satisfied. We believe that, by conducting the current waiver rulemaking, the FHWA has provided sufficient notice concerning this situation and could provide additional notice and opportunity for comment if and when this situation changes (i.e. vehicles made of 100 percent US iron or steel become available).

We also request that FHWA guidance provide a clear statement concerning the reasons why there has been a change in policy concerning the implementation of these rules. Previously, motor vehicles were not subject to the Buy America provisions because they are not a permanent part of highway projects. That policy appeared to make sense because motor vehicles do not become part of the highway infrastructure. Moreover, many of the vehicles purchased with FHWA or CMAQ funding are not even operated by state departments of transportation and are not involved in transportation services. Even for those vehicles that are involved in supporting transportation related services (buses, taxicabs, shuttle buses), or supporting operation of roads (dump trucks, road-crew vehicles, and street sweepers), it is not clear how they can be said to become a permanent part of highway projects.

Thank you for considering these comments.

Jeffrey L. Clarke General Counsel & Director Regulatory Affairs NGVAmerica 400 N. Capitol St., NW. Suite 400 Washington, DC 20001

Wyatt McGhee 05/02/2013
I support this proposed FHWA waiver, as based on your description above, it is very likely that none of the covered projects will be able to move forward if such a waiver is not approved. Requiring such vehicles to be assembled in the US would be both reasonable and in the public interest. Hopefully such a waiver will also be able to be applied to similar future projects.

Don Kopec 05/03/2013
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning strongly supports granting this Buy America waiver. Acquiring low-emission vehicles is an increasingly important method for reducing mobile source emissions in nonattainment areas. Congress recognized this in MAP-21 by targeting CMAQ funds to diesel emission reduction projects in PM2.5 nonattainment areas.

However, a Buy America requirement for 100% iron and steel content in these vehicles is simply not possible in a global economy. American-based manufacturers have clearly indicated this. The Federal Transit Administration has recognized the issue with a much more attainable Buy America requirement for transit vehicles.

Thus, the two provisions of 23 CFR 635.410 (c) have been met: Application of the Buy America provision would be inconsistent with the public interest as clearly stated by Congress in MAP-21, and steel and iron products to build these vehicles, engines, and retrofit components are not produced in the U.S. at all in some cases, let alone “in sufficient and reasonably available quantities, which are of a satisfactory quality.”

For all the reasons above, a waiver should be granted. Some commenters believe a strict 100% Buy America requirement would bring manufacturing jobs back to America. But in reality, the inability to use federal funds on these projects will result in fewer vehicles purchased, fewer American jobs in the short run, and less long-run opportunities to bring the supplier jobs to America.

Alleyn Harned 05/07/2013
Thank you for considering this effort.

Advancing some flexibility under the buy america program for cleaner domestic fuel vehicles can enable governments to deploy technologies made in the U.S. These cleaner domestic fuel options enable use of domestic resources for motorfuel, and can facilitate a great economic impact that may otherwise be limited by time and use restrictions from a Buy America review of each project.

Application of FHWA funds for the maturing market of cleaner domestic fuel vehicles such as propane, natural gas, and electric may be transformative for the air quality and economy of our country. This flexibility allows FHWA to meet program goals and objectives with even greater domestic benefit.

Contact

Edwin Okonkwo
Office of Program Administration
202-366-1558
E-mail Edwin

 
 
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