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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, today questioned U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the whether the department considered the unique circumstances of rural America in developing a forthcoming rule that sets a greenhouse gas (GHG) performance standard. Thune also pressed Buttigieg on the department’s work to advance the testing and deployment of automated vehicles and increased flexibility for truckers, particularly agricultural and livestock haulers.
On rural priorities:
“I am concerned that pending regulatory matters at the department are not adequately considering rural areas. In establishing the ROUTES council, this committee directed the department, through the council, to ‘ensure that the unique transportation needs and attributes of rural areas and Indian tribes are fully addressed during the development and implementation of programs, policies, and activities of the department.’”
“I think that unique needs and attributes of rural areas, things like population density, need to be adequately addressed in the rule. As you know, measures to reduce emissions in urban areas, such as increased public transit, are generally not viable in rural areas. So I would ask that if this particular review was not done by the ROUTES Council that the rule be withdrawn from OMB and that review be undertaken.”
On Automated Vehicle Demonstration program:
“I have worked over the past several years in a bipartisan fashion to enact automated vehicles legislation – which I believe is the key to ensuring AVs are tested and deployed under a safe and consistent regulatory framework – and I remain committed to advancing this critical emerging technology. In the absence of legislation, I believe it is essential for the department to establish a framework for the testing and deployment of AVs. Measures such as granting exemption petitions or updating relevant regulations are crucial to modernizing vehicle safety standards and gathering relevant safety data, ensuring the U.S. maintains leadership in this important technology.”