Pols ponder how to make alt-fuel autos pay their own way on our roads
Peter Blake / Colorado News Agency
All-electric autos in Colorado are free riders. They pay nothing to the state’s highway users tax fund.
Vehicles that burn compressed natural gas, propane or other “alternative” fuels ride nearly as free. In lieu of taxes they pay between $70 to $125 a year (depending on vehicle weight) for an annual decal—far less than they would probably pay in state taxes at the pump, which run to 22 cents a gallon for gasoline and 20.5 cents for diesel fuel. (The additional federal levy is 18.4 cents and 24.4 cents, respectively.)
An effort to correct the inequity failed during the recently completed legislative session, but another bill might be tried next year.
Highway construction and maintenance in Colorado and other states depend on user taxes, the fairest way to pay for public infrastructure.
The system has worked well for decades, with the heaviest vehicles paying the most. But the advent of other fuels is going to force a change in the system. That’s especially true for natural gas, since its prices have been dropping for several years while gasoline prices rise.
UPS and other companies have been converting their truck fleets to compressed natural gas, which now costs about half as much as gasoline per mile and produces less pollution to boot. A high-speed CNG filling station might cost $850,000 or so but the fuel savings make the investment worthwhile.
Does it worry the state? It certainly worries…read full column
Veteran Colorado political columnist Peter Blake writes weekly on state issues for the Colorado News Agency.
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