Saturday, October 2, 2010

Freight FOCUS Supported By Trucking Groups

ATA Back Legislation - Despite Increased Fuel Costs
Shipping News Feature

US - The Freight is the Future of Commerce in the United States Act, commonly known as Freight FOCUS is legislation proposed by the Californian Democratic congressional representative Laura Richardson intended to introduce a new regime aiming to upgrade the most important freight corridors in the country. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) have this week thrown their weight behind the proposal despite the threat of increased fuel costs.

Ms Richardson is reported to have said of the Bill's introduction:

“Major freight corridors are responsible for transporting goods to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the busiest port complex in the nation. The ability for goods to flow smoothly and efficiently impacts both the local and national economies, transportation hubs across the nation are hampered by ageing infrastructure and unsupported transportation corridors.”

“This legislation will go a long way toward addressing critical bottlenecks on our nation's most important highway corridors,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “These chokepoints cost the trucking industry tens of billions of dollars each year, and force trucks to waste a tremendous amount of fuel. With Congresswoman Richardson's help, we can begin to fix these problem areas, which will reduce shipping costs and lower emissions from all vehicles.”

Instead of funding improvements from a fast depleting Highway Trust Fund (HTF), the modes of transport benefitting from FOCUS will bear much of the responsibility for paying for the projects they benefit from with adjudication being the responsibility of the US Department of Transport. In the case of trucking this seems to indicate a higher rate of fuel duty, apparently around 12 cents a gallon, which seems to be the principal which inspired the HTF in the first place.

The battle over the traditionally low tax on fuel in the States has raged for decades with different lobbies holding polarised views on the subject. Ms Richardson is a somewhat controversial figure and has been criticised in the past for her lack of Green credentials also appearing on the ‘ 15 Most Corrupt Members of Congress’ list from nonpartisan watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) for the past two years.