By Alleyn Harned | January 26, 2010 at 04:39 PM EST
The Joint Opening Session had an interesting and divergent mix of speakers including Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan, to David McCurdy of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Jack Basso of AASHTO, Roland Hwang, Senior Policy Analyst at NRDC, and Thomas Kuhn, President of the Edison Electric Institute. While this was a widely varied group, it was noteworthy that all speakers linked vehicle efficiency improvements with environmental results and with solutions to ease us from the real challenges of volatile oil markets.
One major remaining obstacle, despite strong federal support for cleaner vehicles, is that with the exception of the Recovery Act, the highway / transit trust fund has been “broke” since the fall of 2008. One strong ally to AASHTO’s call for transportation funding was David McCurdy with the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers. McCurdy inquired why there was no established “price floor” for gas, and asked the panelists and audience if we want uncertainty and to keep funding rogue regimes or if there was a better solution to dedicate revenue for needed projects and technology advancements. McCurdy followed this statement up by later chastising political leaders for lack of courage in instituting the needed revenue through a gas tax.