Call to retain funding for Recreational Trails Program

Published: September 3, 2012

Gov. Mary Fallin must decide whether to continue funding the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). Transportation reauthorization legislation recently signed into law by the president would continue the RTP essentially unchanged, except that governors of each state will have the authority to opt out of funding the program.

As an avid off-highway vehicle enthusiast, I know it's vital to my sport, and all non-motorized recreation, that Fallin continues the RTP in Oklahoma. The RTP funds the development and maintenance of recreational trails and facilities for motorized and non-motorized uses, including hiking, bicycling, equestrian use, dirt bike riding, ATV riding and other recreational uses.

The program derives its funding from gas taxes collected at the pump when off-highway vehicle operators fill up their machines. The RTP is based on the user-pay, user-benefit philosophy: Taxes collected on fuel used on trails benefits trails. Oklahoma's recreational community is grateful that Congress has retained funding for the RTP. I encourage Fallin to take a look at the positive economic and social benefits of retaining funding for this program.

Stormy Sims, Norman

Wind and sun fickle

Wind and solar power need dependable backups

“Wind industry needs stable U.S. tax policy” (Point of View, Aug. 25) advocates support for the federal Production Tax Credit, touting its benefits for Oklahoma. Denmark had 72 wind-powered electric generators in 1908, yet wind power remains noncompetitive. Federal electric power subsidies in cents per kilowatt-hr (kWh) in 2010 were: gas and oil, 0.064; coal, 0.064; nuclear, 0.314; hydro, 0.082; wind, 5.63 and solar, 77.56. OG&E charges me 11.87 cents/kWh. Only subsidies keep wind and solar alive.

Because wind and sunshine are fickle, every megawatt of wind and solar power capacity must be backed by a megawatt of dependable capacity. The “capacity factor” is the percentage of power capacity actually of use. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas uses 8.7 percent for wind power. Twenty percent of Denmark's electricity capacity is wind power, but only 3 percent of its power usage is wind. This is a 15 percent capacity factor, but they've been at it longer. Denmark's average electricity rate is 32 cents/kWh. They haven't reduced carbon dioxide emissions significantly, because coal generates much Danish power.

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