A coalition of major freight shippers has asked the U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees to restore funding for the voluntary SmartWay clean trucking program that was cut in the Trump administration’s 2018 federal budget proposal.

The shippers, including retailing giant Walmart, paper goods manufacturer Kimberly-Clark Corp. and technology companies Dell and HP Inc., said the endangered program has pushed the goods movement sector to slash emissions, saving an estimated 8 billion gallons of fuel and substantially reducing diesel trucks’ emissions of NOx and carcinogenic fine particulate matter.

A July 14 letter to leaders of the Congressional appropriations committees urged the preservation of the program and said that the savings in fuel costs alone – an estimated $27.8 billion since 2004 – is more than three times the EPA’s entire annual budget and “orders of magnitude higher than the cost of SmartWay itself.”

SmartWay’s current annual budget is $2.8 million.

Hoping to benefit from Congress members’ desire to win favor in their home states by supporting job creation, the coalition wrote that the 23 companies and one trade group signing the letter employ 1.7 million workers “in the U.S. and beyond,” and have combined annual revenue of $640.8 billion.

Coalition members, which also include the North American Council for Freight Efficiency trucking industry trade group, are based in seven of the so-called red states that voted Republican in the 2016 presidential election, including Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana, and in five “blue” states, including California and New York, that tilted to the Democrats.

The SmartWay program, established in 2004, is a voluntary partnership between shippers and the Environmental Protection Agency. Shippers that meet jointly agreed-upon SmartWay emissions reduction goals often are given priority in bidding for private and government business over those that do not.

The shippers’ coalition called SmartWay “a core strategy for companies to reduce their emissions.”

Since its inception, the program has grown from 15 original shipping company members to almost 4,000.

The EPA has justified the funding cut as part of an effort to eliminate 14 voluntary partnership programs, “to better target and prioritize activities related to core environmental statutory requirements.”

The shipping coalition isn’t alone in pleading with Congress to undo program cuts and funding reductions proposed in the Administration’s budget.

Other groups that have written Congress seeking restoration of funding cuts to programs they favor include the American Council on Education opposing cuts to the National institutes of Health and various financial aid and academic research programs; the American Academy of Pediatrics, opposing cuts to various nutrition and public health programs; a coalition of 1,450 community and education groups opposing cuts to federal aid for after-school programs; and a group of 14 energy industry leaders – including Shell Oil and DuPont – seeking to restore funding cuts to a variety of Department of Energy programs.

Additionally, numerous environmental groups have filed a suit opposing proposed cuts to EPA funding and numerous members of Congress – from both parties – have voiced opposition.

Another trucking industry program that would be eliminated if the Administration’s plan is adopted unchanged is the SuperTruck program, launched in 2010 as a joint industry-EPA effort to develop technologies to slash diesel truck emissions and improve freight-moving efficiency by 50 percent.

In their argument for continued funding for SmartWay, the shippers’ coalition wrote that “the efficiency and sustainability of our growing freight sector is a strategic imperative for the nation.”

The signatories of the July 14 letter are: food and beverage makers Califia Farms, Kuli Kuli Inc., and Nutiva, all of California, DanoneWave and Happy Family Brands, both of New York, Monadnock Food Co-op and Stonyfield, both of New Hampshire, Mountan Rose Herbs, of Oregon, and Wisconsin-based Outpost Natural Food; information technology companies Dell, of Texas, and HP Inc., of California;  freight shipper Evans Delivery, logistics suppler Kane is Able, and home furnishing retailer IKEA USA, all of Pennsylvania; Texas-based Kimberly-Clark Corp; New York-based cosmetics giant L’Oreal USA; Makers 7; New Belgium Brewing, of Colorado; Indiana-based North American Council for Freight Efficiency; food industry recruitment firm Orchid Holistic Search, of Michigan;  Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., of California; California-based outdoor clothing maker The North Face; Arkansas-based retail giant Walmart, and Texas-based refuse collection services provider Waste Management Inc.

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About The Author

John O'Dell

John O’Dell is a nationally known automotive writer, green technology expert and editor of TheGreenCarGuy.com. He previously wrote for Edmunds.com and the Los Angeles Times and served on the National Research Council committee that authored the seminal report “Transitions to Alternative Vehicles and Fuels.” He is regularly sought out for commentary on the advanced vehicles market and has been quoted by outlets including the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, National Public Radio, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The New York Times and The Washington Post., The Detroit News, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Los Angeles Times, The Orange County Register, KABC television, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., and the IEEE Spectrum.

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