The Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (AVTM) program was created in 2008 under President Bush to provide loan guarantees for automakers producing next-generation vehicles. So far, the program has supported projects for ultra energy-efficient and electric vehicles, helping create jobs and enhance America’s competitiveness. But Congressional Republicans have proposed slashing funding from the AVTM program in order to set aside money for disaster relief.
Holding this program hostage sends the wrong message to businesses during these tumultuous economic times. We’ve compiled the top five reasons why stripping funding from the AVTM program to pay for disaster relief is a bad idea — plus a bonus reason at the end:
- It creates jobs at a time when America needs them the most. The American economy experienced zero net job growth in August 2011. The Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program (ATVM) directly created 39,000 jobs and is responsible for another 2,600 construction jobs in 11 states. An additional 18 loan applications in progress are projected to create 50,000 – 60,000 more jobs.
- It promotes the production of fuel efficient vehicles. The projects would reduce gasoline use by more than 311 million gallons annually. According to the Government Accountability Office, “the projects for enhanced conventional vehicles as a whole are expected to achieve fuel economy that exceeds the CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] targets by, on average, 21 percent.”
- It invests in green technology, in which the private sector still under-invests. Because the impacts of inefficient vehicles are not immediate and concentrated, but long term and widely dispersed, the private sector does not allocate enough money to address the problem. This is why we need to utilize government resources to invest in green technology.
- It has repaid the majority of its loans. ATVM had to go through a rigorous review process by the Loan Programs Office at the Department of Energy to make sure that it has a reasonable prospect of repayment. ATVM passed and, to date, it has returned two-thirds of its loans.
- Americans should not have to choose between fuel efficient cars and job creation and disaster relief. Congressional Republicans would like to redirect funds from ATVM to pay for damages from extreme weather. Both of these programs are much needed and Congressional Republicans should look elsewhere to make cuts in the budget.
— Cole Mellino, Center for American Progress intern
Many of the disaster funds would go to help people suffering from floods, storms, and other types of extreme weather linked to climate change. Cutting funding for advanced vehicles that would produce less carbon dioxide pollution to pay for extreme weather disaster relief is like cutting funds for Smokey the Bear’s wildfire prevention campaign to pay for wildfire damage.