President Obama formally submitted his final budget proposal to Congress Feb. 9, calling for $4.1 trillion in total spending for fiscal year 2017.
The proposal outlines where the Administration stands on key spending issues as the President presses ahead with his environmental agenda and clean energy priorities. However most, if not all, the budget proposals are unlikely to pass through a Republican-controlled Congress.
The budget contained several provisions of interest to truckstops and travel plazas, including a $10.25 per barrel tax on oil, which Republican leaders called “dead on arrival,” and expanded access to alternative fuels by 2020. It also calls for a major investment of nearly $4 billion to create and deploy “climate smart” autonomous vehicles and develop a common multistate interoperability framework within the decade.
The budget dedicates $495 billion over 10 years to a transportation plan paid for by a $10.25 per barrel tax on oil. The Administration estimates the tax would raise $319 billion in revenue over the next decade.
A Congressional Research Service report, however, said the oil tax would result in decreased discretionary consumer purchasing power, which could translate into lower-than-expected economic growth.
The report states that “since it is likely that the oil fee would be shifted forward by the oil companies and since petroleum products enter into many products, consumers will likely see higher prices, not only directly for gasoline and other consumer products, but, in general, for many products to varying degrees.”
The budget also calls for expanding access to alternative fuels by 2020 and increasing the deployment of electric vehicles powered with clean sources of energy. Specifically, the proposal provides $600 million per year for the U.S. Department of Energy to develop regional low-carbon fueling infrastructure including electric vehicles, biofuels and other low-carbon options.
It is not clear how the Administration intends to effectuate this proposal, but it is similar to a provision in the recently passed highway reauthorization bill (“FAST Act”) that directs the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to designate corridors “along major national highways” for infrastructure for charging electric vehicles and for hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling.
Given that NATSO members have a strong financial incentive to respond to the needs of their customers, commercial and personal travelers of the nation’s highways, NATSO is actively working as stakeholder with USDOT as it seeks to implement this provision.
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