Old petrol pumps in Nøtterøy, NorwayImage via WikipediaLast week, I read a story about an idea being considered in Oregon — to move from a gas tax to a mileage tax, to offset losses in road repair revenue as a result of there being more cars with better fuel economy.  As Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, put it:   As cars burn less fuel, “the gas tax isn’t going to fill the bill“.

Many may think this seems like an interesting idea, and that even if I did live in Oregon, it wouldn’t impact me very much.    Those of you who are of the value network persuasion will likely recognize, right away, the counterproductivity this move would represent.  For me, this idea makes little “cents” (pun intended).

Here we are pushing “green”, and acting as if we recognize the impact we’ve had on our environment.  And along comes a complicated and expensive approach that seems to perpetuate what I call “long-term short-sightedness”.

Sure, such a tax could serve to counter the revenues being lost as a result of cars having better fuel economy – but at the cost of creating a disincentive to  progress and participation we’ve made on the environmental front?

Perhaps not the best alternative, but simply increasing the overall fuel tax, rather than a system that offsets an incentive to “do your part” (at least the part of increased economy), seems a better way to attack the problem – assuming that the problem is simply the reduced revenue.

Another alternative, related to suggestions that the real tartet here is congestion, or at least congestion at certain times of the day, would be to implement tolls – or an EZPass type system for an automated approach.  This would “tax” the road use at issue and could be a more efficient approach from an infrastructure standpoint – and one that doesn’t deter what some people are doing to reduce costs/emissions.

Sure, I’m an outsider in this particular case (by about 2,750 miles), and yes, I’ve likely oversimplified the situation, but in addressing new problems, doesn’t it make the most sense to consider all the moving parts and various objectives that we’re trying to satisfy with our actions?

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