May 14, 2010
A majority of the revenue generated from a new transportation user fee included in a climate bill proposed in the U.S. Senate would be diverted to non-transportation purposes —- a departure from 54 years of federal policy, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).
The “American Power Act” (APA), released May 12, would mandate that oil companies producing transportation fuels purchase emissions allowances based on their volume of carbon production. These costs would be passed on to consumers. Transportation user fees are historically dedicated to the maintenance and improvement of the U.S. transportation system — roads, bridges, transit systems, bike paths, pedestrian routes, and related programs.
ARTBA estimates the new fee would generate roughly $20 billion each year from the on-road transportation sector but only return a maximum of $6.25 billion to transportation infrastructure investments, with a cap of $2.5 billion per year contributed to the federal Highway Trust Fund. The majority of transportation-generated revenue, however, would be used for a variety of non-transportation purposes, including federal government debt reduction; discounts for certain heating oil and electricity consumers; reforestation programs; subsidies for the energy production industry; and incentives for nuclear power.
“The U.S. transportation infrastructure network is in desperate need of maintenance and expansion across all modes,” said Pete Ruane, president & CEO of ARTBA, in a press statement. “Diverting transportation revenues away from our roads, bridges and transit systems at a time when they need attention the most will hurt our economy, inhibit our ability to reduce emissions from congestion, and limit our ability to compete in a global marketplace.”
ARTBA says it is working to ensure all revenue generated from transportation system use, as part of a climate change bill, is dedicated to improving the nation’s highway and public transportation network.