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Gas Tax Should Yield to Mile Fee as Cars Evolve: James M. Whitty

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- For 80 years the U.S. has relied on motor-fuel taxes to pay for road repairs, transit systems and highway construction. This system needs an overhaul because soaring fuel efficiency and a poor economy jeopardize the current tax’s fundraising power.

The federal government reaped $31.7 billion from fuel taxes in 2009, the lowest total in five years. States collected $37.9 billion in 2008, about the same amount as the year before. More recent data isn’t in yet, but further declines are inevitable. In July, carmakers and U.S. authorities agreed to raise fuel-efficiency standards 80 percent by 2025. As better mileage becomes commonplace, motorists won’t need to buy as much gasoline or diesel.