States look to tax hybrids to recoup lost road funding

By Chris Kardish

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, June 9 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Jay Friedland, legislative director for the advocacy group Plug In America, has asked legislators in other states to phase in special fees after the number of alternative-fuel vehicles reaches 100,000, arguing administrative costs make such policies counter-productive before states reach a critical mass.

"We generally say this is a period of time when you should be incentivizing these vehicles, but after a while, yes, everyone should be paying their fair share," he said.

North Carolina has an estimated 30,000 hybrid and electric cars registered in the state.

Plug In America supports a vehicle-miles tax, and Friedland said his organization swayed Washington lawmakers to include a study of that policy in the state's own bill targeting alternative-fuel vehicles.

"Fundamentally, the mechanism exists (for charging a miles-traveled tax), but I don't know of any states that are currently doing that yet," he said. "We're really on the edge of this, because we're for once actually watching fuel consumption going down, and that's why we're watching these taxes come up."

Berry Jenkins of the Carolinas Association of General Contractors said bigger reforms are ultimately needed to address infrastructure in the long term. He's part of a coalition of businesses and regional transit groups that endorses miles-traveled taxes. The problem, he said, are concerns that they system would require intrusive new technologies and that fuels apprehension among political leaders.

"It's never going to be a convenient time to ask people to pay more for infrastructure," he said.

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