More Fuel Efficient Cars Mean Less Revenue For ODOT

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A Toyota Prius(Photo: Sam Hendren / WOSU)
A Toyota Prius(Photo: Sam Hendren / WOSU)

A group known as Environment Ohio released a report Wednesday backing the Obama Administration’s proposed auto fuel efficiency standards. Those standards call for an average of 54.5 miles per gallon for vehicles by 2025. But better fuel economy means a decline in revenue for the state department of transportation.

At a press conference in Columbus, with a fuel efficient Toyota Prius as a backdrop, Dan Van Voorhis of the group Environment Ohio said that President Obama’s proposed 54.5 miles-per-gallon standard is obtainable.

“We have the Prius here that gets an average of 45 miles a gallon,” Van Voorhis said. “The standards are right there and the technology is already there.”

The group says cutting oil consumption has a host of benefits including the reduction of global warming pollution.

But there is a downside at least for the time-being. The financially troubled Ohio Department of Transportation – ODOT – has seen a reduction in revenue as vehicles become more efficient. Gene Krebs is a senior director at the Greater Ohio Policy Center.

“Ohio’s Department of Transportation is funded almost entirely at the state level through a gasoline tax which is dependent upon the volume of gasoline used, not the price of it,” Krebs says. “What that means is that as your consumption goes down, the amount of dollars received by ODOT goes down.”

Department of Transportation director Jerry Wray gave a sobering assessment of his agency’s financial difficulties on Tuesday. Wray had said earlier this year that ODOT faces more than $1.5 billion budget shortfall.

Greater Ohio’s Gene Krebs says the easy solutions have been implemented. Now it’s time for tougher measures.

“All the solutions that are left are very difficult; and frankly very ugly,” Krebs says. But at least now, because Director Wray has admitted they have a problem, we can start having that discussion.”

Billions of dollars in construction projects have been delayed or postponed because of ODOT’s budget difficulties.

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