Before all the attention turns to the inclusion of automaker financial assistance in the next economic stimulus legislation, let’s first take notice of the Department of Energy’s good work so far on the regulations for the already approved $25 billion low-interest loan program. Looks like somebody has been working weekend.
From the Department of Energy, November 5:
WASHINGTON, DC – Today the U.S. Department of Energy issued an Interim Final Rule that implements the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program authorized by section 136 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). The FY09 Continuing Resolution provided DOE with funding to make up to $25 billion in direct loans to eligible applicants for the costs of reequipping, expanding, and establishing manufacturing facilities in the United States to produce advanced technology vehicles, and components for such vehicles. These vehicles must provide meaningful improvements in fuel economy performance.
In the FY09 Continuing Resolution, Congress required DOE to issue to issue interim final regulations for the section 136 program within 60 days – that is, by November 29. The Department has completed and issued those regulations in approximately half of that time.
“Issuance of this interim final rule opens the process for automakers and component manufacturers to immediately apply for government funding under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program,” said Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman. “Since Congress provided funding for this loan program approximately 30 days ago, the Department has worked quickly and responsibly to draft this rule, set up a loan office, and establish a credit review board to review loan applications.”
The final rule is available here as a .pdf file. News coverage…
Detroit News, “DOE sets auto loan rules“: “Senior government officials said during a conference call with reporters that it was “doubtful,” but possible, that the funds could be issued before Dec. 31. ‘We are prepared to act on anything we get immediately if it is a good quality application,’ an official said on the call. ”
There IS this, however, as described in the Washington Post: “Still, the loan must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Congressional Review Act, which prevents a regulation from being implemented until 60 days after the next Congress convenes in January.”
Congress could pass a waiver when it convenes for a lameduck session November 17.