Transportation stakeholders are opposed to a provision in a draft climate-change bill introduced in the Senate that would generate more revenue based on emissions from the sector than would be re-invested in infrastructure or transportation projects.
“Congress can ill afford to consider any legislation that preempts funding from the highway trust fund, which supports the vital transportation systems every American relies on,” John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, stated in a release.
AASHTO was joined by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, among others, in calling for infrastructure to receive a larger share of the revenue from what the groups said would essentially be fees on road users, similar to federal gasoline taxes.
Peter Ruane, president and chief executive officer of ARTBA, said: “Diverting transportation revenues away from our roads, bridges, and transit systems at a time when they need attention the most will hurt our economy, inhibit our ability to reduce emissions from congestion, and limit our ability to compete in a global marketplace.”
The American Power Act, released last week by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., would generate an estimated $19.5 billion of transportation-related revenues starting in 2013, according to ARTBA and AASHTO.
That number is based on fuel consumption rates for gasoline and diesel fuel users.
The bill would set a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions and set up a system of emissions trading.
As such, it would require oil companies to purchase carbon emission allowances at prices as low as $12 or as high as $25 per ton, starting in 2013.
The prices would increase in future years to reach the goal of reducing overall emissions by 83% as of 2050.
The Kerry-Lieberman legislation would provide about $6 billion for infrastructure, split between a set of national competitive discretionary grants, state and local greenhouse-gas emissions reduction programs, and the federal highway trust fund.
The trust fund is used to cover a large share of the costs for state-run transportation projects and lawmakers have grappled with finding a new revenue source to supplement gasoline and diesel fuel taxes that have provided less revenue in recent years.
The industry groups claim the climate bill, as drafted, represents a lost opportunity to use transportation-related emissions revenues to help pay for infrastructure.
The coalition of groups, including truckers and road builders, already had been arguing that any transportation-related emissions charges should be deposited into the trust fund.