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I heard a phrase on the radio yesterday that described the unappetizing way the stimulus bill was crafted in Congress this past week: emergency sausage. However it was crafted, the deed is now done. The overall impact of the bill is being covered by everyone everywhere, so we'll focus on the green transportation items that were included in the final bill, which is on its way to the President's desk. The big winners were trains and plug-in cars.

  • As the Environmental Law & Policy Center and CNN note, high-speed and inner-city rail made out like bandits. The first version of the stimulus bill, written in the House, set aside $300 million for these trains. This ballooned to $8 billion - along with $6.9 billion for public transportation and $1.3 billion for Amtrak - by the time it was done.
  • Plug-in vehicles - as well as hybrids and fuel cell EVs - get a $2 billion investment for advanced battery technologies. The number of vehicles that are eligible for the plug-in electric drive vehicle credit jump up to 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer. The EDTA is happy with that, but is disappointed that the PHEV credit is capped at $7,500 and doesn't apply to big vehicles (those that weigh over 14,000 lbs).
  • An upgraded smart grid is helped out by $4.5 billion for development and deployment.
  • Traditional cars don't lose out, either. People who buy a new car in 2009 and who earn less than $125,000 individually or $250,000 jointly can deduct the sales tax.

What does it all mean? Well, that's something which won't be clear for a while. CalCars, though, is optimistic: "Taken in combination with other external factors, this could be the beginning of the breakthrough we've been hoping for," they write. You can watch a video of the President discussing the stimulus package after the jump. Thanks to Peter G. for sending some of this in.

[Source: CNN, EDTA, Environmental Law & Policy Center, CalCars]


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