The following is a statement by Dennis D. Truax, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, President, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE):
WASHINGTON, D.C. – ASCE strongly opposes recently introduced legislation by Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) to suspend the current 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gasoline tax through the end of this year. Even at the same modest figure of 18 cents per gallon for over 25 years since 1993, the motor fuel tax has represented a reliable federal revenue source for communities to fix and modernize their network of roads, bridges, and transit systems.
Taking a gas tax “holiday”—even for a temporary amount of time—would result in the loss of over $20 billion from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), dealing a serious blow to the new bipartisan infrastructure bill at a crucial point in time as Americans are expecting improvements to the nation’s roads, bridges, and transit systems that rely on that funding for maintenance and repair. Further, there is little guarantee that motorists will see any real relief at the pump, as oil producers have benefited significantly in the past from previous state-level gas tax holidays. There is no mechanism to ensure that this “savings” is passed on to consumers, but a virtual guarantee of disrupting transportation dollars and the HTF. Furthermore, undoing this “holiday” at the end of the year will almost certainly be impossible once this precedent is set.
While it sounds like an enticing solution when pocketbooks are strained, Congress knows that a variety of factors, including plain supply and demand, affect the prices that people see at fuel stations. This legislation’s attempt to deliver economic relief to Americans is misguided and won’t achieve the intended outcomes.
Now is the time to build on the momentum of the IIJA and for the first time in decades take significant steps to revitalize our aging transportation infrastructure, improve public safety, and create well-paying local jobs. Any legislation suspending the federal gas tax is a major step backward and threatens the work that Congress and the Administration put into place with the enactment of the IIJA last year.
About the American Society of Civil Engineers
Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 150,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society. ASCE works to raise awareness of the need to maintain and modernize the nation's infrastructure using sustainable and resilient practices, advocates for increasing and optimizing investment in infrastructure, and improve engineering knowledge and competency. For more information, visit www.asce.org or www.infrastructurereportcard.org and follow us on Twitter, @ASCETweets and @ASCEGovRel.