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Congress eyes Vehicle Miles Traveled tax

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering legislation that would create a pilot program to research vehicle miles traveled as a new funding source for the Highway Trust Fund. 

The bill would require the federal treasury conduct studies to demonstrate the viability of a VMT revenue source in every state.  Oregon Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer sponsored the legislation to create a program similar to the pilot program undertaken in his home state.

Fuel efficient vehicles have resulted in insufficient revenue for the Highway Trust Fund. The Congressional Budget Office has said the newest fuel economy standards for automobiles will result in a 21 percent reduction in HTF revenue by 2040.

Nevada, Minnesota, Iowa, Texas and New York have had pilot projects charging drivers for the miles traveled rather than fuel consumed. Oregon is beginning the second phase of its project, which will expand the pool of users and test collection methods to address questions raised in the initial phase.

Rather than VMT, the trucking industry has supported adjusting the fuel tax rate to inflation, which has not occurred since 1993. 

The bill was referred to committee Dec. 17 with no co-sponsors.

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