Featured

U.S. Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Autonomous Vehicles

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on “Highly Automated Vehicles: Federal Perspectives on the Deployment of Safety Technology.” The hearing will have witnesses from the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Witnesses will discuss perspectives on the safe testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles, efficiency benefits, and mobility.

To view the hearing, click here.

Congresswoman Eshoo and Lofgren Introduce Online Privacy Legislation

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced H.R. 4978, the Online Privacy Act of 2019. The legislation aims to protect individuals and restore trust in technology companies. Specifically, the bills establishes a Data Privacy Agency (DPA), creates user rights, places clear obligations on companies, and strengthens enforcement.

To see the press release from Congresswoman Eshoo’s office, click here.

Congressional 5G Caucus Holds Briefing on CV2X Technology

The Congressional 5G Caucus, co-chaired by Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN), Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI), and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI), held a briefing on “Cellular Vehicle to Everything: Leveraging 5G to Make Americas Roads Safer, Smarter, and More Efficient.” The panel discussed the importance of utilizing the 5.9 gigahertz bandwidth within 5G in order to have fully operational cellular vehicle to everything (CV2X) connectivity for the future. According to participants, CV2X capability will allow vehicles not only to connect and communicate with each other, but also with infrastructure, and mobile devices to increase safety on roadways, provide further visibility and the pathway to the future. Panelists echoed similar sentiments acknowledging that 5G is needed in order to transfer the amount of data that will be produced from the cutting-edge technology.

Dean Brenner, Senior Vice President at Spectrum Strategy and Tech Policy at Qualcomm, stated that most vehicles today have 4G enabling them to be able to connect with other vehicles. Walt Townsend, Vice President of Applications Engineering at Applied Information, highlighted that part of the testing they have been doing with emergency vehicles is in order to assure these vehicles get through traffic efficiently. John Kwant, Global Director of Government Affairs at Ford, and Brenner both expressed the need for preserving the 5.9 band for CV2X technology. In 1999 the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) reserved this part of the spectrum for direct short-range communications (DSRC). Under FCC rules, the 5.9 band space needs to be used for DSRC. Their rules also state an obligation to keep the rules updated. In May 2019, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai considered starting a rulemaking to reconsider usage of the 5.9 band for Wi-Fi, however, Brenner noted in the panel discussion there is 1200 megahertz above the 5.9 band that the FCC is giving for unlicensed use.

Panelists:

  • John Kwant, Global Director, Government Affairs Mobility & Advanced Technologies, Ford
  • Walt Townsend, VP Applications Engineering, Applied Information
  • Nancy Bell, Policy Counsel, Automated Driving, Intel Corporation
  • Dean Brenner, Senior Vice President, Spectrum Strategy & Tech Policy, Qualcomm

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform Holds Hearing on Fuel Efficiency Rollbacks

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing entitled, “Trump’s Wrong Turn on Clean Cars; The Effects of Fuel Efficiency Rollbacks on the Climate, Car Companies, and California.” Subcommittee Chairman Harley Rouda (D-CA) in his opening statement expresses his disdain with the Administration’s proposal to freeze Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) standards at 2020 levels, rolling back Obama Administration policy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to revoke the State of California’s waiver that allows the state to set its own tailpipe emissions standards under the Clean Air Act of 1970. Chairman Rouda asserted that “stricter emissions standards not only reduce the main cause of global warming, but encourage automakers to develop newer, more efficient vehicles that will save Americans money at the pump and improve the health of each and every American.”

The hearing also sought to examine the fossil fuel industry’s influence over the change in regulatory decision-making process at the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). During the first panel, Senator Whitehouse used his opening statement to discuss how “the fuel economy standards would have little effect on the number of cars sold, they would considerably affect the amount of gasoline sold. That 1.7 trillion dollars saved by consumers is lost oil industry revenue,” arguing that the oil industry hired groups and trade associations that lobbied on behalf of the oil industry to have these regulations rolled-back. Senator Whitehouse also scrutinized the current U.S. Department of Justice anti-trust investigation into the four automakers and the State of California agreement to adhere to California emissions standards.

During opening statements for the second panel, the first three testimonies all echoed similar sentiments regarding why the roll back of CAFE and GHG emissions standards by the Administration will negatively impact air quality and eventually the health of Americans. Dr. Wimberger stated that the three main impacts of the roll backs and revocation of California’s waiver will ensue which are, uncertainty for automakers, any meaningful impact on reducing GHG emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, and adversely impact air quality in areas of the country that do not currently meet federal health based air quality standards, putting the health of vulnerable Americans at an increased risk.

Witnesses:

Panel 1:

  • The Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Former Governor of California
  • The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Senator from Rhode Island

Panel 2:

  • Antonio M. Bento, Professor of Public Policy and Economics, University of Southern California
  • The Honorable Samuel Liccardo, Mayor of San Jose, California
  • Emily Wimberger, Climate Economist, Rhodium Group
  • Marlo Lewis (minority witness), Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

U.S. Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Data Ownership

The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs held a full committee hearing entitled “Data Ownership: Exploring Implications for Data Privacy Rights and Data Valuation.” Committee Chairman Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) acknowledged in his opening statement that “there have been many questions about what personal data is being collected, how it is being collected, with whom it is being shared and how it is being used.” Rapid innovation of technology has impacted all sectors and markets as industries strive to be more connected and technologically savvy. This results in a plethora of data being produced, all throughout the day about consumer habits and daily lives. Chairman Crapo goes on to state that “associated with concepts about data ownership or control is the value of personal data being used in the marketplace, and the opportunities for individuals to benefit from its use.” Ranking Member Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) offered examples of companies in his opening statement that have had data breaches or do not have a history of protecting consumer data and expressed concern when talking about “Americans’ data to be treated like property.”

In their opening statements, witness testimonies touched on similar concepts as they provided lawmakers considerations to contemplate when drafting privacy legislation. Mr. Chad Marlow discussed data as a property model, and a “central tenet of [that model] is that the government should establish – through regulating and policing a universal marketplace of personal data – that individuals are “owners” of their personal information and, consequently, have a property-based right to sell or refuse the sale of their data to third parties.” Mr. Marlow highlighted two pieces of legislation in the U.S., the California Consumer Privacy Act and Maine’s “Act to Protect the Privacy of Online Customer Information”, that make advances to protecting consumer privacy that, at the same time, do not treat data as property. However, both of these pieces of legislation fail to establish who owns the digital data, which Mr. Ritter states is the “the most fundamental question [when discussing privacy law].”

Witnesses:

  • Jeffrey Ritter, Founding Chair, American Bar Association Committee on Cyberspace Law, External Lecturer
  • Chad Marlow, Senior Advocacy and Policy Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union
  • Will Rinehart, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy, American Action Forum
  • Michelle Dennedy, Chief Executive officer, DrumWave Inc.

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

U.S. Senator Calls for New Electric Vehicle Subsidies

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is proposing a new $400 billion dollar incentive program for electric vehicles. According to Politico, the proposal would start with $3,000 vouchers to trade in gas-powered vehicles for plug-in electric and plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. For lower income Americans’, larger  vouchers would be available.

The current program is stated under the Internal Revenue Code Section 30D, which establishes an electric vehicle (EV) tax credit as an incentive for consumers to buy and own qualified electric vehicles. The claimed credit can be up to $7,500 and is based on the EV’s car battery size. The federal government is looking at phasing out these tax credits and while there is no set expiration date, that process has already started.

Schumer intends for the program to be part of a larger climate bill and has not yet written up legislation for the proposal. Schumer’s program would be in addition to the current program, which some are hoping to expand. However, consumers would need to pick between the two programs.

U.S. House Committee Holds Hearing on Sustainability within Transportation Sector

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on “The Next Mile: Technology Pathways to Accelerate Sustainability Within the Transportation Sector.” In his opening statement, Chairman Conor Lamb (D-PA) emphasizes that “transportation is vital to our everyday lives,” and the purpose of the hearing is to discuss how to “be smarter about our investments in technologies that can help reduce emissions in this sector.” Ranking Member Randy Weber’s (R-TX) opening statement further emphasizes the need for a conversation about sustainable transportation and H.R. 2170, the Vehicle Innovation Act of 2019, which would provide additional funding for Department of Energy vehicle research activity and research to reduce or eliminate vehicle emissions or petroleum usage.

Witnesses, in testimonies, highlighted the importance of transforming our forms of mobility into affordable, and energy efficient options, such as electric vehicles and optimizing alternative fuel options. Witnesses also discussed how the U.S. can better utilize our energy resources to benefit our national security, climate change, and increase the efficiency of American lives and that these start with upgrading our modes of transportation.

Witnesses:

  • Ann M. Schlenker, Director, Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory
  • James Chen, Vice President of Public Policy, Rivian Automotive LLC
  • Brooke Coleman, Executive Director, Advanced Biofuels Business Council
  • Claus Daniel, Director, Sustainable Transportation Program, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Tim Cortes, Vice President of Hydrogen Energy Systems, Plug Power Inc.

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

U.S. House of Representatives Committee Holds Hearing on Transportation Network Companies

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing entitled, “The Future of Transportation Network Companies: Challenges and Opportunities.” Prior to hearing, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) stated in a press release, “as state and local governments struggle to integrate new modes of transportation into their networks, Congress must take an active role ensuring safety and accountability for the needs of the traveling public.” In his opening statement, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, noted the importance of how transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, are impacting America’s roadways and “what this new business model means for public safety, jobs, emissions, transit services, and other factors, must be at the center of any policy decision to allow these companies to access our infrastructure.”

During the Member Panel, Representative Smith (R-NJ) and Representative Suozzi (D-NY) both detailed in their opening statements the importance of ensuring that passengers utilizing ride hailing companies are getting into the right vehicle to avoid circumstances of those such as Samantha “Sami” Josephson, who was kidnapped and murdered by a man pretending to be an uber driver. The bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3262, in honor of Samantha was introduced this past June by Representative Smith and cosponsored by Representative Suozzi, was taken up in the subcommittee hearing. The legislation would require enhanced vehicle identification procedures to improve the safety of ride hailing passengers.

Witnesses during Panel 1 all echoed similar sentiments during their opening statements expressing the need for ensuring the safety of passengers using transportation network companies (TNCs) and the need for increased investment in pilot programs, research, and federal grants. Paul Miller, Legislative Counsel to The Transportation Alliance, emphasized that Congress should be deliberate in policy decisions, but “where we do see Congress having an immediate role is with the federal contracts awarded to for-hire transportation companies. The General Services Administration (GSA) is in the process of putting together a Request for Proposal (RFP), which is looking to outsource some of the Federal governments transportation needs to TNCs.” Miller, along with Chairman DeFazio, expressed concerns regarding the currently lax background check process at Uber and Lyft, and that fingerprint-based background checks should be implemented, especially if they were to be receiving a federal transportation contract.

Witnesses:

Member Panel:

 

  • The Honorable Christopher H. Smith, A Representative in Congress, From the 4th District of New Jersey

 

  • The Honorable Thomas R. Suozzi, A Representative in Congress, From the 3rd District of New York

 

Panel 1:

 

  • The Honorable Karen Freeman-Wilson, Mayor, City of Gary, Indiana, President, National League of Cities

 

  • Jon W. Martz, Director, Government and Public Affairs, Commute with Enterprise

 

  • Paul Miller, Legislative Counsel, The Transportation Alliance

 

  • Larry Willis, President, Transportation Trade Department, AFL-CIO

 

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

NHTSA Opens Rulemaking on Camera Based Rear Visibility Systems

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is taking public comment on amending Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) No. 111, “Rear Visibility”. Currently, FMVSS No. 111, requires that vehicles have rearview mirrors. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NRPM) comes after requests from manufacturers to install “camera monitor system” (CMS) as an alternative to inside and outside rearview mirrors.

To read the NRPM and submit a comment, click here.

Visit Your State's Website