The Highway Trust Fund is staring down an insolvency crisis due to diminishing gas tax revenues. Central to this development are increasing fuel efficiency standards of gas powered vehicles and the roll-out of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), which are not subject to the gas tax in most states. However, there are more cars on the roads now than ever, and many of them are powered by alternative fuels like natural gas, propane, and electricity. Are drivers of those vehicles paying their fair share for maintaining roads and bridges? Some states have enacted flat registration and licensing fees to address these issues.

In October of 2013, eight state governors signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU),  committing to coordinated efforts to  ensure the successful implementation of each state's Zero Emission Vehicle programs. This ZEV Action Plan is made up of 11 key steps to achieving widespread deployment of electric vehicles. It includes aggressive promotion of electric vehicles and of electric vehicle-friendly policies as a means of cleaning up transportation and stimulating job growth. 

As growth of the US electric car industry hastens the network of publicly available chargers necessary to power these vehicles faces pressure to grow as well. One possible force slowing the effort to create a ubiquitous charging network is the intersection of public electric vehicle charging stations and state electric utility regulation. The primer examines state-level regulatory choices: the choice to regulate chargers as electric utilities and the choice to permit utility ownership of chargers. Both policies could have important implications for the viability of a charging market. 

Virginia’s transportation bill that went into effect on July 1, it included a new $64 fee for registering “hybrid electric motor vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, and electric motor vehicles.”. A number of other states have at least considered following suit. North Carolina’s Senate passed a measure that would tax electric vehicle (EV) owners and hybrid vehicle owners $100 and $50 respectively. The measure has yet to make it through the House. Kansas considered taxing plug in EVs as they charge, a measure that would be analogous to the way the gas tax is collected. Arizona lawmakers considered a 1.43 cent per mile tax on EVs. But such actions and proposed actions are not simply about states seeking new revenues to pay for transportation. States are also trying to even the playing field for all those who drive on America’s roads and perhaps to breathe some life back into the concept of a user fee to help maintain them. In doing so though, states must try to balance policies elsewhere that seek to encourage the proliferation of such vehicles because of their potential for environmental benefit.    

Before I depart for the holidays, I thought I would leave you transportation policy fans with a few things to read on those iPads and Kindle Fires you may find under the tree Sunday morning. In what has become an annual tradition, it’s time to clear out the CSG Transportation inbox so we can start fresh in the New Year. There are lots of items below on many of the issues we cover regularly here on the blog including: state...

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released a three-page outline of a bipartisan bill to authorize federal transportation programs Tuesday and held the first hearing on the plan Thursday. There is also news this week about state efforts to find new sources of revenue to fund transportation, including public-private partnerships.

I’ve written a fair amount over the last year or so about the intersection of transportation and the environment in public policy, about Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth, about Climate Change and Transportation and about Green Transportation. Several new reports on related issues have come across my desk in recent weeks. Here’s a rundown.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that CSG supports efforts to advance the development of EV infrastructure in the near-term, and to foster longer-term benefits that could be derived from the use of grid-enabled technology;

 

My colleague Doug Myers and I are co-authors of a new Capitol Research brief out today entitled “Green Freight Transportation.” A follow-up to our previous brief “Green Transportation” which debuted in July, it examines the opportunities available to states to enact policies, get behind federal initiatives and support industry efforts to make freight transportation greener. The brief examines such strategies as truck anti-idling regulations, the development of alternative fuels for trucks and trains, truck-only toll lanes to increase mobility and decrease emissions-producing traffic congestion, investing in freight rail and developing our marine highways to shift some of the freight burden from highways to modes that produce less emissions. The brief also points out the need for a national strategic freight plan, examines how federal policy initiatives could be shaped to make freight transportation greener and makes the case for the role of state governments in ensuring a greener future for freight. While the brief and the resources that went into creating it hopefully offer a good overview for those interested in the subject matter, there are a number of other worthwhile reports, recent news items and other materials we wanted to recommend for those who may want to do some further reading.

With freight demand expected to double over the next 40 years, it's more important than ever to consider the impact of freight transportation on the environment. This policy brief examines the opportunities for state government to enact policies, get behind federal initiatives and support industry efforts to make freight transportation greener.

Pages