One of the most valuable and most important facets of membership in NAFA Fleet Management Association is becoming part of the collective voice the association has within the United States and Canadian government. NAFA retains experienced legislative representatives in Washington, DC and Ottawa, Ontario to coordinate vital information on laws, regulations, and other government activity relating to fleets. In the first few months of 2009, NAFA's legislative team not only kept up-to-date on legislation, which could affect fleet managers, but played an active role in multiple situations.
In February, Patrick O'Connor, NAFA's U.S. legislative counsel, examined the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and how the bill would affect fleets. Upon examination, O'Connor discovered many benefits to fleets including the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, which makes fleets eligible for $20,000-30,000 or more toward the purchase of each new hybrid medium- or heavy-duty truck; $400 million in grant money for vehicles through the DOE Clean Cities Program; $600 million to replace older vehicles owned by the federal government with new vehicles, including plug-in and other alternative fuel vehicles; and tax credits for alternative fuel pumps through the alternative refueling property credit.
NAFA was among the first in the industry to have the bill's effect on fleets analyzed and made public. More than 200 fleet managers participated in NAFA's free webinar to learn all about the guidelines for applying for the funds. In addition, NAFA's legislative counsel was readily available to assist fleets in applying for funding.
In March, Huw Williams, NAFA's Canadian Legislative Counsel, outlined concerns from the Membership about frozen automotive credit markets, which were impeding business and the Canadian economy, in a letter to Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. NAFA was encouraged that the Finance Department was considering actions to address automotive credit in the federal budget, and was also encouraged that the Government of Canada embarked upon an initiative to restore liquidity in the automotive market so that vehicle acquisitions are not stalled. NAFA submitted a formal response to consultations by the Department of Finance and the Business Development Bank of Canada. In addition, Williams represented NAFA at one such consultation meeting on March 6.
The association's legislative work continued in April with the announcement that NAFA representatives would be participating in upcoming hearings scheduled by the EPA on a rule requiring mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large sources in the United States. The proposed rule is intended to collect accurate and comprehensive emissions data to inform future policy decisions. Although the EPA is not proposing reporting requirements at this time, it has requested comments on several fleet issues and has left open the possibility to mandate reporting by fleets in the final regulation.
NAFA's role as a collective voice for fleet managers is one of the Association's most important benefits. NAFA encourages fleet managers to communicate regularly with lawmakers and regulators to assure that fleet concerns are considered when laws and regulations are being considered. Association Members and Affiliates have the ability to request information on specific pending laws or regulations without charge by directly contacting Patrick O'Connor or Huw Williams.