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BREAKOUT SESSION 3 Aligning Transportation Funding with Climate Change Strategies and Sustainable Planning How Can It Be Done? Asha Weinstein Agrawal, Mineta Transportation Institute (Moderator) David L. Greene, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Astrid Glynn, TPRG Kendra Breiland, Fehr and Peers Sarah McMillan Ross, South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Peter Mills, Perrin, Thorau & Associates What Is Greener Than a Vehicle Miles efficiency of highway vehicles allows a calculation to be Traveled Tax? made from available information in a relatively straight- forward manner. David L. Greene of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Mr. Greene stated that the energy tax could have four discussed an indexed energy user fee as an improvement to five times more impact on greenhouse gas emissions over the current motor fuel tax. It would help to make than a VMT tax, since drivers pay more attention to fuel the transportation sector more sustainable from the view- economy when prices are high. On the basis of today's point of energy and climate change. The political feasi- conditions, the energy tax would save approximately 50 bility of implementing a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) million tons of carbon dioxide per year nationwide com- tax remains challenging, and the outcome is uncertain. pared with a VMT tax. Inflation, fuel economy improvement, and increased By itself, the energy tax would be ineffective in reduc- use of alternative fuels and transit threaten the amount ing traffic congestion, but it could be combined with of revenue for road finance generated by the motor fuel other measures including automated tolling to achieve tax. Use of motor fuel excise tax revenues for funding that end. Similarly, it does not reflect environmental and transit and subsidizing ethanol has eroded highway reve- congestion burdens created by trucks, but this could be nues to a lesser degree. Fuel economy improvements due addressed by implementing universal road pricing for to increased corporate average fuel economy standards heavy vehicles. Even with the energy tax, Mr. Greene and higher oil prices further the disconnect between noted, carbon would still need to be priced and emission VMT and fuel use, and future improvements will widen standards enforced. this gap. The energy tax would be practical, reliable, and pre- While a VMT tax would link the distance traveled dictable and would have a low implementation cost. It with vehicle use, a user fee on energy would be greener. would generate important environmental benefits, accus- The energy fee has an equivalent effect on vehicle use but tom motorists to paying by the mile, and really function promotes energy efficiency and encourages motorists to as an enhanced version of a VMT tax. purchase more energy-efficient vehicles. This can be con- sidered an indexed roadway user toll on energy. Question: How would electricity use on the road be To remain effective, an energy tax would need to be taxed? levied on all energy used to propel vehicles (electricity, Answer: Electric vehicles will remain a small seg- biofuels, compressed natural gas, etc.), and it would need ment for the vehicle fleet for a while, but the fee would to be indexed to energy efficiency and inflation. Fleet be assessed on the utility company that generated the fuel economy is easily predicted, and the average energy power. Eventually, there will have to be a smart grid. 31