Those who worship at the altar of environmentalism oftentimes have good ideas. The problem is that most environmentalists don't (and many won't) consider the potential negative effects those good ideas may spawn.
For example, consider the idea of greater vehicle fuel efficiency. Who possibly could be against that? And, to their credit, it has long been a major objective of those who worship at the altar of environmentalism.
However, one consequence associated with greater vehicle fuel efficiency is that less fuel is used.
"But isn't that the objective?" environmentalists ask.
Yes it is. However, in the United States, motor fuel taxes pay for transportation infrastructure and studies indicate that the money to fund infrastructure repairs and upgrades isn't available. The secenario:
- Environmentalists clamor for greater fuel efficiency.
- Car makers design more fuel-efficient vehicles.
- The number of miles driven steadily declines.
- Electric cars use no gasoline at all. Their drivers don't pay for road use, even though their vehicles still take up space on the road and cause wear and tear.
- Federal and state fuel tax revenues are increasingly insufficient to build new roads and maintain existing ones.
What to do?
The former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor and a senior fellow and director of Economics21 at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Diana Furchtgott Roth, wants Congress to replace its motor fuel taxes with a fee for miles driven. Instead of paying tax at the pump, drivers would pay mileage-based fees based upon their road use. They would also get the roads for which they are prepared to pay.
In a great experiment in federalism, the State of Oregon completed a Road Usage Charge Pilot Program (RUCPP) in 2012. RUCPP provided options for recording the number of miles travelled (including at least one option that did not use GPS technology because some drivers fear an invasion of privacy).
With the nation's interstate highway system completed and the Highway Trust Fund going the way of the Social Security Trust Fund, it's time for the states and/or private companies to take responsibility for maintaining and upgrading those highways. Keep those revenues out of the hands of the U.S. Congress.
With states raising funds for their roads, they can provide for maintenance and upgrades more cheaply and efficiently, that is, as long as state legislators care more about good roads than they do about purloining their pockets.
Let the discussion begin...
To read Diana Furchtgott Roth's article in the Washington Examiner, click on the following link:
"Vehicle Mileage Taxes Could Help States Take Over Road Building From Washington."