New fuel mileage standards will impact quality of U.S. highways

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: December 2, 2012

Obama's promotion of alternative energy also threatens basic transportation infrastructure. Bobby Stem, executive director of the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors, recently noted some alternative-fuel vehicles actually weigh more than gas-fueled cars, creating more wear and tear on roads — yet those drivers pay little or nothing in fuel tax to support road repair.

That's true at the federal and state level. In Oklahoma, gasoline and diesel fuels are taxed at 17 cents and 14 cents per gallon, respectively, but compressed natural gas for cars is taxed at just 5 cents per gallon of gas equivalent; there is no similar tax for electric cars. Those of us driving a gas-powered car are paying more to subsidize plug-in drivers who use the same roads.

We're not among those supporting a fuel tax increase. Too often, federal lawmakers have diverted money from roads and bridges to questionable “transportation” projects such as walking trails. But there's no doubt roads require money, and the fuel tax is the main funding source today.

Obama touts fuel standards and alternative energy as a panacea for consumers, but both have the potential to foster deteriorating roads. Ignoring that reality benefits no one. The president should be up front with the public and explain how he'd resolve that challenge.

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