Now that we're past the election, the business of running the country goes to the victor, President Barack Obama. Of course, crucial to Oklahoma is the future energy policy of our country.
Recently, government and private organizations have turned to electric fleets instead of the traditional gasoline vehicles once used. Environmentally, it's a great move for these organizations — electric cars are cleaner and more cost efficient than a traditional gasoline vehicle.
However, many electric cars weigh hundreds of pounds more than a traditional gasoline vehicle, placing greater stress on roads and bridges. As an example, the Nissan Leaf, an all-electric vehicle, weighs 3,354 pounds compared with the 3,193-pound Nissan Altima, a conventional gas vehicle.
As executive director of the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors (AOGC), I pay close attention to our state's roads and bridges, especially the funding of these projects. The Legislature, along with many partners, carefully crafted and is implementing the eight-year transportation plan appropriating dollars on the state level to ensure our roads and bridges are maintained and constructed. However, federal funding for Oklahoma roads and bridges comes from a percentage of a fuel tax.
The 161-pound difference between the Leaf and Altima doesn't seem like much, but conceptually, one can drive the heavier vehicle — on Oklahoma roads — and not pay a single cent of the fuel tax that funds the very roads they use.
Although we commend these organizations' actions, which help our environment, we urge policymakers to review the way our federal fuel tax funds highway and bridge maintenance and construction.
The federal government needs to find an equitable solution for electric vehicle owners to help fund the roads and bridges they enjoy on a regular basis. Without policy change — and with a continued growth in alternative fuel vehicles — federal funding will shrink as we see the fuel tax receipts decline, all while taking a bigger toll on our state's roads.
The AOGC is open to help find a reasonable solution for all parties. If we don't do something soon, federal highway funding won't be enough to keep up with our needs.