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Request

Action: Notice, request for comments.

Web posting date: 11/15/2013

Federal Register Notice of Finding Publication Date: 12/30/13

Effective Date of Federal Register: 12/31/13

Close of public comment period: 01/15/14

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 112 vehicle projects (including sedans, vans, pickups, SUVs, trucks, buses, and equipment, such as backhoes, street sweepers, tractors and low emission locomotives) 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

Duane S. Eitel 11/18/2013
Waiver is a reasonable solution.

Cristian Gonzalez 11/18/2013
I believe this waiver is acceptable and fair as these struggling communities are counting on these vital pieces of equipment to provide reliable and responsible services to their citizens in a timely manner. During these rough economical times it would be nearly impossible to secure equipment without these great programs.

Ivan A. Page 11/18/2013
The waiver is the appropriate solution considering it would almost be impossible to otherwise comply. Why limit the waiver to just the 112 projects identified?

Lynn McLean 11/19/2013
I think the waiver is reasonable as long as it is regarding the steel and iron. I am not in favor of any waviers that would allow agencies to purchase vehicles built outside the United States if there are any companies within the U.S. that have final assembly here. The only exception would be a speciality vehicle that can not be found anywhere else.

Chris Werner 11/19/2013
The waiver for the 112 vehicle projects should be granted, and the "final assembly" standard is reasonable and in the public interest for the purposes of this waiver.

E. Tony Stauffer 11/20/2013
Re: Project #35, Railpower Locomotive: Comments

Stauffer/Stadco Generators supports the granting of the waiver request. 1. Stadco has 8 years of experience building generator sets for ultra-low emissions locomotives. 2. The product is engineered and built in the US, using a diesel engine with less than 34% foreign content. 3. typically steel & iron components for engine manufacturing are sourced globally. 100% US steel and iron content in any engine this size is likely to be impossible to find. 4. 64.5% of the generator content for the Illinois, Village of Berkeley project is domestic product, including a large amount of domestic iron and steel, plus all the labor content. 5. Stadco has about 475 generator units of this type in service throughout the US. 6. Support services for such Stadco generators create ongoing US jobs during the course of building, operating, maintaining and repairing these generators. 7. Stadco supports the waiver for the benefits to a project like the Illinois, Village of Berkeley project because of the large reduction of exhaust emissions and substantial reduction of fuel consumption. 8. Issuance of a waiver is not only reasonable, due to the lack of diesel engine with 100% domestic steel and iron, but it is also in the public's best interest to grant a waiver due to the air quality improvement and thousands of domestic jobs that support the manufacture of ultra-clean locomotives. 9. Stadco believes that granting of the requested waiver would be in the best interest of the public in both continuing the improvement of air quality in non-attainment areas across the country and supporting the nation's economy by supporting both domestic manufacturing jobs and long-term product support jobs.

Thank you, E. Tony Stauffer Stauffer Diesel Inc, Ephrata, PA 17522

Michael M. Sprinkel 11/26/2013
Waiver is a reasonable solution.

Randall S. Blankenhorn, ED-Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) 11/27/2013
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) strongly supports the proposed Buy America waiver for 112 federally funded vehicle projects. These projects, many using alternate fuels or retrofitted engines, can have significant impacts on the air quality of a metropolitan region.

In particular, through its board and MPO Policy Committee, CMAP has programmed four projects on the list with CMAQ funds, repowering 41 diesel locomotives with cleaner technologies. The region is committed to improving air quality, and CMAP specifically supports the Buy America waiver for these projects.

Diesel fuel combustion is a primary cause of fine particulate matter (PM) emissions. PM has been linked to numerous health issues including asthma, lung disease, and heart disease. The use of improved technologies has shown a significant reduction in particulate matter emissions. They also have demonstrated a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen-oxide and volatile organic compound emissions, which are precursors for ground level ozone.

The engines used in these projects are clearly manufactured items, as contemplated in the 1983 Buy America Rule (48 FR 53099) and subsequent clarifying documents. In addition to the difficulty of tracing where an engine's smaller parts originated, the fact that modern manufactured products are globally sourced means so-called “foreign” products have American parts, just as “American” products have foreign parts.

With the passage of MAP-21, Congress has specifically identified the reduction of PM emissions as a key focal point for the CMAQ program. States with regions in nonattainment of PM air quality standards must obligate at least 25 percent of their CMAQ funding on projects which reduce PM emissions. The retrofitting, repower and replacement of diesel engines will be the cornerstone of these efforts. To limit states’ and regions’ abilities to address this statutory requirement with the Buy America requirements will needlessly pit these two Congressional goals against each other.

Kevin Brown 11/27/2013
Despite the 1983 final rule (48 FR 53099), the Dec 12, 1997 memo and Dec 21 2012 (HIPA‐30) memo (none of which specifically mentions retrofit emission control products), there still appears to exist considerable confusion with regards to the purchase of manufactured products using FHWA / CMAQ funds. This confusion is being further fueled because FHWA still is considering various waivers such as those included in this November 15 notice and request for comment. FHWA should make one or both of the following clear: 1) all diesel retrofit devices and components are exempt as stated under the manufactured products memo of Dec 21 2012, AND/OR 2) all diesel retrofit devices are exempt due to the public interest provision of the regulations because the public health benefits of these projects are being delayed unnecessarily by the waiver process. By continuing to accept and process waivers for projects that employ retrofit devices (is. Manufactured products which are composed of <<90% steel), FHWA is facilitating the existing confusion and this causes additional delays in PM2.5 reduction projects which are prioritized under CMAQ MAP-21.

Jeffery Schielke, Mayor, City of Batavia, IL 12/02/2013
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Council of Mayors (Council of Mayors) supports the proposed Buy America waiver for 112 federally-funded vehicle projects. These projects, many using alternate fuels or retrofitted engines, can have significant impacts on the air quality of a metropolitan region.

In particular, through the CMAP Board and MPO Policy Committee, the Council of Mayors has programmed four projects on the waiver list with CMAQ funds, repowering 41 diesel locomotives with cleaner technologies. The region is committed to improving air quality, and the Council of Mayors specifically supports the Buy America waiver for these projects.

Diesel fuel combustion is a primary cause of fine particulate matter (PM) emissions which has been linked to numerous health issues including asthma, lung disease, and heart disease. The use of improved technologies has shown a significant reduction in PM emissions.

The engines used in these projects cited in the waiver request are clearly manufactured items, as contemplated in the 1983 Buy America Rule (48 FR 53099) and subsequent clarifying documents. In addition to the difficulty of tracing where an engine's smaller parts originated, the fact that modern manufactured products are globally sourced means so-called “foreign” products have American parts, just as “American” products have foreign parts.

With the passage of MAP-21, Congress has specifically identified the reduction of PM emissions as a key focal point for the CMAQ program. States with regions in nonattainment of PM air quality standards must obligate at least 25 percent of their CMAQ funding on projects which reduce PM emissions. The retrofitting, repower and replacement of diesel engines will be the cornerstone of these efforts. To limit our region’s ability to address this statutory requirement with the Buy America requirements will needlessly pit these two Congressional goals against each other.

The Council of Mayors wishes to strongly express its concern that Buy America waivers not be used to stall the development of American businesses and their accompanying jobs. Every effort needs to be made to ensure that, to the maximum extent feasible, American manufactured goods are used in globally sourced products.

Jeffery Schielke, Mayor, City of Batavia, IL Chairman, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Council of Mayors

Michael Klabunde 12/02/2013
Electro-Motive and Progress Rail Services support this Buy America waiver request. This action will enable many projects to move forward - projects that not only will be beneficial to the environment but will also support US jobs. We are a major producer of low-emissions locomotives, with 1,000s of employees nationwide including major locomotive facilities in Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, and Washington State. Supporting this waiver directly supports several projects that do have very high Buy America content and are assembled here in the US. Additionally, these projects help with the transportation infrastructure of the US, supporting and encouraging economic growth.

Michael Klabunde Director - Locomotive Repowers Progress Rail / Electro-Motive

Antonio Santos, MECA 12/04/2013
The Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association (MECA) supports FHWA's proposal to grant a waiver for the 112 vehicle projects subject to this notice. However, in supporting this proposal, MECA would also like to reiterate the points we made previously to FHWA regarding the Buy America requirements (see MECA's written comments submitted on April 26, 2013 and on August 20, 2013).

Specifically, similar to the comments provided by commenter Kevin Brown on November 27, 2013, MECA believes that FHWA should either: 1) exempt all diesel retrofit devices and components from the Buy America requirements per the clarifications set forth in the FHWA's December 21, 2012 memo ("Clarification of Manufactured Products under Buy America") and/or 2) exempt all diesel retrofit devices and components due to the public interest waiver provision of the Buy America requirements because the public health benefits of these projects are being delayed unnecessarily by the waiver process.

MECA represents 46 North American companies that manufacture emission control technologies for mobile sources, including the majority of companies that manufacture diesel retrofit devices. MECA member companies provide the advanced emission control devices that are used in air pollution nonattainment areas to achieve the goals of the FHWA's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program. All of the products and components sourced by our industry create value that supports U.S.-based manufacturing wages. Our industry supports over 65,000 manufacturing and service jobs in the U.S.

John Jessup 12/04/2013
Please allow a waiver to the buy America provision so we can convert more vehicles to clean burning propane. This is a great way to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and reduce our carbon footprint.

John Jessup Executive Director NCPGA

Angela Harris 12/04/2013
This wavier appears to be a fair and reasonable request.

Marcy Bauer 12/04/2013
There are many fleets standing in line to take advantage of grant funds that will help them begin converting their fleets to alternative fuel vehicles, and this Buy American exemption is the last obstacle in their way. The exemption is a reasonable step to help these municipalities and private companies start transitioning to vehicles that can run on domestically produced natural gas, propane and electricity.

Tim Rice 12/05/2013
I feel the waiver is an appropriate solution to the project 112 vehicles that the final assembly is in the United States.

Lacey Jane Wolfe 12/05/2013
I support the waiver.

Lew Lewis 12/05/2013
The waiver is reasonable. Why is it limited to 112 vehicles?

Donald Godfrey 12/06/2013
I support this waiver and should be granted.

Donnie Bullock 12/06/2013
Williams Energy Group supports an exemption to the “Buy America” requirement so companies can convert more vehicles from diesel to clean burning propane. The FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) 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 type projects to continue. Granting a waiver will enable FHWA recipients and sub-recipients to use their Federal funds to displace vehicles that produce harmful emissions for vehicles and/or modification of vehicles that are assembled in the United States & use a clean burning fuel that is produced in the U.S. Being good stewards of our environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil is the prudent thing to do.

J.C. Burnette 12/07/2013
I am in full support of this waiver.We need more vehicles to convert to the cleaner fuel Propane !

Keith Barker 12/09/2013
I am in full support of the waiver.

F Ray Moore 12/11/2013
I support the waiver

Mary Broderick 12/12/2013
IBEW 68 is an awardee for a Colorado Grant which offsets the purchase of an Electric Vehicle. We totally support the application for Waiver of Buy America 100% steel; only because there are no electric vehicles currently manufactured with more than 45% US content in the body per AALA reports. It is therefore impossible to comply with Buy America 100% Steel. We believe that in this situation the benefits of granting the waiver meet the original intent of Buy America. We see those benefits as: 1)the growth of the electric vehicle industry; 2)the subsequent electrical job creation to provide the EVSE infrastructure, 3)the benefits to the environment and community health through the reduction of transportation pollutants. We will also be basing our electric vehicle based on American University Kogod Business School research index- which ranks American Vehicles according to seven factors;1)US company, 2)US labor, 3)US R&D, 4)US Inventory, 5)US Engine,6) US Transmission, and 7)(Body,Interior,chassis, electrical & other) which are true indications of how a vehicle ranks with respect to Buy America. http://www.american.edu/media/news/20130405_-New_Auto_Index_Redefines_Which_Cars_Are_Really_Made_in_America.cfm

Robert Sawchuck 12/19/2013
I support this waiver. In fact, the delay in waiting for the waiver to be approved is preventing some Americans from working. This waiver request for comment has been posted for more than 30 days and should be granted immediately.

Contact

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

 
 
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Updated: 11/28/2014
 

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United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration