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CTA gives Harper's green idea 'thumbs up;' Projects could include speed limiters
OTTAWA -- An environmental initiative for truckers, by truckers, seems to have struck a chord in Ottawa, as the Conservative government's newly announced $1.5 billion environmental plan may include Canadian Trucking Alliance proposals like mandatory speed limiters, weight or dimensions allowances, and incentives to expedite penetration of smog-free technology into the market. "Canada's thriving economy relies heavily on its transportation system to move people and goods quickly and efficiently. But transportation is also one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases and air pollution in Canada-key factors that affect the health of Canadians and our planet," states Transport Canada. Details of the budget-based proposals are still sketchy, but the CTA is giving a cautious “thumbs up” to today’s announcement in Trois Rivieres, Que. from federal transport minister Lawrence Cannon who said $61 million on the fund will specifically go towards reducing the environmental effects of freight transportation. The program, dubbed ecoFreight, includes six transportation initiatives, two of which are specifically designed for the trucking industry, while the others are spread across all the modes.

Harper's latest green plan is good for truckers and the
environment says CTA. Opposition parties may disagree.
CTA chief David Bradley said today’s announcement looks to be a "good first start" in the adoption of CTA’s 14-point Made-In-Canada Clean Air Act plan for the trucking industry unveiled last year. "The dollar numbers are very modest … but to the extent that the program recognizes the legitimacy and potential of the CTA plan and the principals behind it then that is half the battle and perhaps we can build from there,” he said. The first ecoFreight component for trucking is a $6 million effort to reduce provincial barriers on harmonizing and adoption of emission-reducing technologies. CTA "anticipates that this will include most of the proposed measures" identified in CTA’s own clean air manifesto, such as the mandatory activation of speed limiters; and weight or dimensions allowances to accommodate wide base single tires; and alternative power units to eliminate truck idling and aerodynamic fairings such as boat tails. "At the end of the day, all of these measures fall under provincial jurisdiction, so the more we can harmonize the better," says Bradley. The other trucking-related program calls for up to $22 million by Natural Resources Canada for training and education, sharing of best practices, anti-idling campaigns, technical analysis and evaluations to identify opportunities for improvements in fuel efficiency and GHG reduction. Among the initiatives to be shared with the other modes of most interest to carriers is likely to be a $10 million initiative to help defray the costs of purchasing and installing emission-reducing technologies. Again, while there are little details at this point, CTA thinks this could include the re-instatement of rebates or grants for in-cab heaters (the program was halted recently by the Conservatives after an audit uncovered serious administrative faults with the NRCan program). Another component includes the establishment of a Freight Technology Demonstration Fund to test and measure "new and underused freight transportation technologies in real world conditions." "Ten million (dollars) over four years across all modes could be gone very quickly; so we are anxious to learn more about which technologies will be eligible and what amounts will be available to each of the modes,” says Bradley. The plan is dependant on the passing of the next federal budget, expected around mid-March. Opposition parties would prefer the government retreat from its new environmental initiatives and return to honoring the Kyoto protocol ratified by the previous Liberal government. This week, the House, on the strength off all three opposition parties, passed a bill 161-113 that calls for the Conservatives to respect Kyoto targets. The Liberals, however, failed to keep the country anywhere close to its Kyoto commitments, which require Canada to cut emissions by six percent from 1990 levels by 2012. Between the time of signing and the ratification, GHG emissions continued to rise—more than in the U.S. and many European countries.
 
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