Bill looks to give truckers tax break on APU purchases

| 7/30/2009

Truck drivers could save up to $3,000 on the purchase of some idling-reduction equipment, if one recently introduced congressional measure is approved.

Introduced on Wednesday, July 29, by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, and Kay Granger, R-TX, the Idling Reduction Tax Credit Act – HR 3383 – would provide a 50 percent tax credit of up to $3,000 for any truck owner purchasing an idling-reduction unit.

“Idling can increase engine maintenance costs, shorten engine life, adversely affect driver well-being, and create elevated noise levels,” Blumenauer said on the House floor Wednesday. “This legislation provides an important incentive to protect our environment, reduce fuel consumption, and ease the burden of compliance on the trucking community.”

Granger agreed.

“I think focusing on idling reduction is a commonsense way to not only cut down on the amount of fuel trucks use, but to reduce the amount of truck pollution,” Granger said. “It may seem like a small step, but when you add up the amount of time an average truck idles in a year, this tax credit will benefit both the trucking community and the environment in a very big way.”

The proposed credit was met with enthusiasm at OOIDA headquarters Wednesday.

“Nearly 90 percent of the trucking industry is made up of motor carriers that have fewer than six trucks in their fleets,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“These small business truckers literally drive our economy, but rarely have the disposable income to make large, up-front purchases for idle reduction technologies. A tax credit would go a long way to create a real incentive to purchase idle-reduction technologies, and it is a win for the environment, a win for lower fuel consumption, a win for hardworking truckers, and a win for safety on our highways.”

Mike Joyce, OOIDA’s director of legislative affairs, said the bill’s timing couldn’t be better.

“When the worlds of transportation policy and environmental stewardship and our national economy collide, this is a perfect bill that addresses all three of those concerns,” Joyce said.

APUs and other idling-reduction technologies have gained in popularity as many states, counties and cities have limited and outright banned diesel truck idling. The cost of purchasing the technologies combined with the down economy, however, has made the push for idling restrictions difficult for small trucking businesses to deal with.

Blumenauer said the measure could help truckers pay for the expensive price of APUs.

“Unfortunately, these units can cost up to $8,500,” he said. “While there are loan programs available for some truckers to help defray this cost, most are unable to take advantage of those programs. The Idling Reduction Tax Credit Act would make the federal government a full partner in this effort. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this important legislation.”

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer