As Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and Joe Lieberman, I/D-Conn., work toward their goal of introducing climate change legislation by Earth Day (April 22), transportation groups are petitioning the trio to invest revenues raised from a carbon fee that would increase the cost of gas and diesel fuel back into transportation.
A coalition of 27 groups led by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the American Public Transportation Association, and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, wrote in their April 1 letter, "New fees placed on transportation fuels should be dedicated to the Highway Trust Fund and invested along with other surface transportation funds under a multi-year highway and transit authorization bill." They warned that enacting a reauthorization bill "will be very difficult, if not impossible, should Congress approve legislation that diverts revenue from carbon-based fees from motor fuels away from the transportation investment." The signatories also included unions and groups representing engineers, local governments and cyclists.
Transportation for America, a coalition of alternative transportation, public health, housing and environmental groups, spearheaded a second letter to the senators that was signed by 40 organizations, including passenger and high-speed rail interests, planning groups and cycling advocates. The April 5 letter expressed "deep concerns about proposals to deposit funds from sales of carbon permits in the Highway Trust Fund without additional policies to direct those funds towards transportation projects that advance our climate and energy goals." They also called for the eventual bill to include requirements to ensure that states and regions develop transportation plans that reduce oil use and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.
Which approach do you favor? How do you think revenues raised from a carbon fee on transportation fuels -- which, although it would raise the price of gas and diesel at the pump, would not be an excise tax on motor fuel per se -- should be allocated?