by Peter Roff • Washington Examiner
Only in Washington would a congressional committee recommend a one-year extension of the tax credit for electric vehicles (in this case motorcycles) the day after General Motors announces it’s pulling the plug on the all-electric Chevy Volt.
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the outgoing chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, generally opposes these kinds of special provisions. They’re bad policy because they distort activities in the marketplace. Nonetheless, it’s right there in the bill he has proposed.
What’s even stranger is that Congress signed off on phasing out this credit in its entirety in the 2018 tax bill. It’s an expensive write-off that mostly benefits the uber-wealthy, who buy electric cars as status symbols and tokens of environmental consciousness. Continue reading
By My Way News•
Oregon is about to embark on a first-in-the-nation program that aims to charge car owners not for the fuel they use, but for the miles they drive.
The program is meant to help the state raise more revenue to pay for road and bridge projects at a time when money generated from gasoline taxes are declining across the country, in part, because of greater fuel efficiency and the increasing popularity of fuel-efficient, hybrid and electric cars.
Starting July 1, up to 5,000 volunteers in Oregon can sign up to drive with devices that collect data on how much they have driven and where. The volunteers will agree to pay 1.5 cents for each mile traveled on public roads within Oregon, instead of the tax now added when filling up at the pump.
Some electric and hybrid car owners, however, say the new tax would be unfair to them and would discourage purchasing of green vehicles.
“This program targets hybrid and electric vehicles, so it’s discriminatory,” said Patrick Connor, a Beaverton resident who has been driving an electric car since 2007.
State officials say it is only fair for owners of green vehicles to be charged for maintaining roads, just as owners of gasoline-powered vehicles do.
“We know in the future, our ability to pay for maintenance and repair… will be severely impacted if we continue to rely on the gas tax,” said Shelley Snow with the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Other states are also looking at pay-per-mile as an alternative to dwindling fuel tax revenues.
Last year, California created a committee to study alternatives to the gas tax and design a pilot program; Washington state set money aside to further develop a similar program; and an Indiana bill directs the state to study alternatives and a test project.
While growing in popularity, electric vehicles and hybrids are still in the minority on American roads, even in a state as green-minded as Oregon. Of 3.3 million passenger cars registered in Oregon at the end of 2014, about 68,000 were hybrid, 3,500 electric and 620 plug-in hybrid. A decade ago, only 8,000 hybrids were registered.
However, fuel-economy for gas-powered vehicles has been increasing as technology is developed that addresses public concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil.
Oregon is the only state to actually test-drive the pay-per-mile idea.
The gas tax provides just under half of the money in Oregon’s highway fund, and the majority of the money in the federal Highway Trust Fund, of which Oregon receives a portion.
Oregon’s share of the fuel tax over the past two decades has been mostly flat and in some years declined, state data show. In 2009, the Legislature raised the tax from 24 cents to 30 cents per gallon, but that’s not enough to avert shortfalls, state officials said, because construction costs increase with inflation.
Oregon previously held two rounds of small-scale tests involving GPS devices to track mileage.
The current program, called OreGo, will be the largest yet and will be open to all car types. Of these, no more than 1,500 participating vehicles can get less than 17 miles per gallon, and no more than 1,500 must get at least 17 miles per gallon and less than 22 miles per gallon.
Volunteers will still be paying the fuel tax if they stop for gas. But at the end of the month, depending on the type of car they drive, they will receive either a credit or a bill for the difference in gas taxes paid at the pump.
Private vendors will provide drivers with small digital devices to track miles; other services will also be offered. Volunteers can opt out of the program at any time, and they’ll get a refund for miles driven on private property and out of state.
After the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon raised concerns about privacy and government surveillance, the state built protections into the program, said ACLU’s interim executive director Jann Carson.
Drivers will be able to install an odometer device without GPS tracking.
For those who use the GPS, the state and private vendors will destroy records of location and daily metered use after 30 days. The program also limits how the data can be aggregated and shared. Law enforcement, for example, won’t be able to access the information unless a judge says it’s needed.
“This is the government collecting massive amounts of data and we want to ensure the government doesn’t keep and use that data for other purposes,” Carson said.
The OreGo program is projected to cost $8.4 million to implement and is aimed to gauge public acceptance of the idea of charging motorists per mile of road they travel. It will be up to the Legislature to decide whether to adopt a mandatory road usage charge.
One of the biggest concerns will be whether a program like OreGo could actually discourage people from buying electric or hybrid vehicles.
Drive Oregon, an advocacy group for the electric-vehicle industry, supports the program because every driver should pay for road repairs, executive director Jeff Allen said. Still, he said, “The last thing we need to do right now is to make buying electric cars more expensive or inconvenient.”
The US tax code taxes diesel fuel at one rate and taxes the ultra clean burning and domestically produced liquified natural gas at a rate that is 70% higher. This should be corrected!
The United States is now the largest producer of natural gas in the world. This is a positive development and will help us reliably and inexpensively heat our homes, power our economy, and fuel our vehicles. Moreover, it will reduce our dependence on unreliable foreign sources of energy.
Despite this good news, there is a bit of bad news. When natural gas is liquified and used as a transpiration fuel, our tax policy puts it at a huge disadvantage as compared to diesel fuel. We tax diesel at one rate and then tax the ultra clean burning and domestically produced liquified natural gas (LNG) at a rate that is 70% higher than diesel fuel based on its energy content. This is counter productive and disincentivizes the use of a reliable domestic energy resource.
Our tax policy should not be picking winners and losers and it shouldn’t be favoring one source of energy while penalizing another. Yet, that is precisely what the current tax code does to LNG and propane.
Some in the House and the Senate want to reduce the taxes on LNG and propane so that they are equalized with the taxes on diesel fuel. This amounts to a tax cut for LNG and propane so that it is taxed a the same rate as diesel fuel based on its energy content, rather than at substantially higher rates. We strongly support such a tax cut!
The Senate plan to extend federal funding for transportation projects into the summer of 2015 includes this important tax fairness and equalization provision. It is also an important economic growth provision. While we cannot support every measure within the Senate highway bill, this is a provision that we believe should be included in the final bill. It is fair. And it will help the economy grow because it will remove an arbitrary tax penalty and a counterproductive tax disincentive on an important homegrown energy resource.
We call upon the House to compromise by including this tax reduction and tax fairness provision in their highway transportation bill. We also call upon Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to be willing to compromise with the House on the final bill and allow the legislative process to proceed. In our estimation, the House transportation bill has a great deal to recommend it. But by taking the strengths of the House bill and the Senate bill, we will end up with a better outcome.
Energy prices will rise as large, coal-fired power plants are taken off line without a credible plan to replace them. Eliminating one-third of America’s coal plants is a choice for Congress to make, not the EPA.
President Barack Obama, in presenting his strident new plan to reduce carbon emissions, is touting the health benefits of cleaner air. And there’s little doubt shutting down one-third of the nation’s coal plants will make America’s air cleaner and some people healthier.
But it will also risk making them hungrier, less prosperous and more likely to be unemployed as the nation’s economy slows and jobs disappear. The tough, new restrictions on smokestack emissions are the latest in a series of battles in the administration’s war on coal. Continue reading
by Ben Geman
EPA’s big new draft regulations to cut power-plant carbon dioxide emissions name-check all kinds of tools that states can use to comply with the standards.
They include renewable-power growth, efficiency programs, switching coal plants to natural gas, and cap-and-trade initiatives, which are already underway in California and among Northeastern states. Not mentioned: Imposing state-level carbon taxes on power-plant emissions.
It’s not something the agency is likely to tout at a time when top Republicans are already trying to frame the whole rule as a “national energy tax.” But EPA officials, when asked, made it clear Monday that a state could indeed choose to go the carbon tax route. Continue reading
President Obama has called inequality “the defining challenge of our time.” But on June 2 he will announce new “cap-and-trade” environmental regulations that will make the poor a lot poorer and the rich a little less rich.
Obama said in his January State of the Union Address: “Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”
But these steps without legislation will reduce opportunities for the poorest Americans. Those in the lowest fifth of the income distribution spend 24 percent of their income on energy, compared with 4 percent for those in the top fifth. Mr. Obama’s new proposed cuts in carbon emissions, in the form of “cap-and-trade” proposals that were rejected by the Democratic House and Senate in the first two years of his presidency, will raise the cost of energy, particularly electricity, and hit the poor hardest. Continue reading
by Grover Norquist
With the arrival and passing of yet another April 15th Tax Day, the federal government will consume 20.5 percent of America’s total income this year. It’s not as bad as in France or Greece, but somewhat worse than when we formed these United States. When we were Colonies under the British, the average tax burden on American colonists was 2 percent. That was considered unbearable, and the revolution was on.
There has been some slippage over the years. The 16th Amendment allowing the income tax opened the door to truly European, supersized government. Continue reading
by the Editorial Board, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
President Obama’s new envirocratic and anti-growth “climate action plan” ignores genuine science, tramples representative government, spells economic ruin and — like so much federal grandiosity — clearly wasn’t subjected to proper cost-benefit analysis. Continue reading
If only President Obama would take his approach to energy production and apply it to the national debt, we’d be down to 2007 levels in no time. According to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), his administration’s policies have caused production on federal lands to plummet.
Although the president likes to claim that production of oil and natural gas has increased during his tenure, the growth driving the current energy boom has occurred entirely on non-federal lands. On federal lands subject to government control, it’s a different story. Between 2010 and 2012, oil production on federal lands fell by more than 23 percent to levels lower than those in 2007. Continue reading
The economy is not some theoretical concept or ivory tower idea. A strong economy means that Americans have jobs and growing incomes. It means that families can provide their children with the care and opportunities that will provide for a bright future. Conversely a weak economy means fewer jobs and less opportunity. It means lower incomes and it means that families have to do without.
Too often big government slows the economy by taxing and spending too much. Those who support more and more government taxes and spending always argue that government can do something good with the money. But the problem with that argument is that families and businesses also can do a lot of good with that money if government doesn’t take it away from them. Continue reading