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April 30, 2008 - ASCE Letter - Opposing 'Gas Tax Holiday'

April 30, 2008

The Honorable Hillary R. Clinton
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C., 20515

Dear Senator Clinton

On behalf of the more than 140,000 members of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) we urge
you to reconsider your support of a “gas tax holiday” even if foregone Highway Trust Fund dollars are

As we reported in our 2005 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the nation’s roads are in desperate
need of repair and improvement and merit only a “D” grade. Additionally, the federal Highway Trust Fund
already faces a likely shortfall of $4 billion in 2009. With these combined factors, we can not afford to
eliminate any revenue for surface transportation – even for a short time period.

Despite the intention of reducing consumer prices in times of economic strain, there is no guarantee that
eliminating the gas tax will reduce prices at the pump. The federal motor fuels tax has not been raised
since 1993, yet prices continue to rise, independent of fiscal policy. This plan offers no means of ensuring
that gas prices will not continue to rise. Furthermore, a proposal that replaces dedicated revenues with
general fund monies sets as bad precedent by leaving open the opportunity to use this tactic in any
number of other policy areas.

In addition to the short term uncertainty, the plan would also produce damaging long-term effects. In
these troubling economic times, we need greater investment in infrastructure. The U.S. Department of
Transportation estimates that more than 30,000 jobs are created from $1 billion of federal highway
investment. Even with an equalizing transfer into the Highway Trust Fund, no greater amount goes
towards surface transportation investment. Americans already lose approximately $700 a year to traffic
congestion and repairs from poor road conditions, without a guarantee that the price of gas will remain
low, the extra money those consumers are forced to pay will not have the compounding benefits of
infrastructure investment.

ASCE has been a long-time supporter of increased investment for surface transportation. We believe that
the federal motor fuels tax is the only method currently available to provide sustained funds for our
nation’s transportation infrastructure needs.

Thank you for your support, if you have any additional questions, please contact Brian Pallasch,
Managing Director of Government Relations and Infrastructure Initiatives, at 202-789-7842 or


David Mongan, P.E., F.ASCE