Road Revenue TableAccording to a new study by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, new Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards that mandate cars and light trucks average 54.5 mpg by 2025 will deprive federal highway projects of more than $65 billion in revenues.

That estimation is based on the fact that at-the-pump taxes levied on fuel are by law funneled to transportation projects. With mandatory CAFE fuel mileage increases, the amount of revenue collected from gas taxes will go down, which will cut into road revenues, the report says.

Of course, there are ways of circumventing that lost income, but all that will surely play out in the coming few years. In the meantime, click past the jump to see the report for yourself. Naturally, it's worth noting that the ARTBA, based in Washington, DC, is a group that represents the interests of road and construction workers.
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New Fuel Efficiency Standards = $65+ Billion in Lost Revenue for Highway & Transit Improvements Between 2017-2025, ARTBA Says

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A July 29 Obama Administration proposal to increase fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks to an average 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) between 2017 and 2025 would result in the loss of more than $65 billion in federal funding for state and local highway, bridge and transit improvements, an analysis by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) shows.

The impact on the nation's transportation improvement program, ARTBA President Pete Ruane says, would be like eliminating all federal highway funding for nearly two years.

"Like everyone else, we are supportive of efforts to reduce carbon emissions and improve fuel economy. However, from a public policy perspective, this is a classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing," Ruane said. "It's irresponsible to advance such proposals without acknowledging and attempting to mitigate the adverse effect they would have on other areas of federal responsibility like making infrastructure improvements that improve safety, reduce traffic congestion, create jobs and help grow the economy."

Per gallon federal gasoline and diesel taxes collected at the pump are deposited into the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF). By law, these excises are the primary revenue source for financing road, bridge and transit projects. The less motor fuel used by drivers, the less revenue generated for improvements financed through the HTF.

The analysis, conducted by Dr. William Buechner, a Harvard-trained economist and ARTBA vice president of economics & research, assumes the increase in fuel efficiency standards between now and 2016 will occur as required (the Obama Administration in 2010 put in place an increase from an average 28.3 to 34.1 mpg by 2016). It also assumes the mpg requirement will be phased in at five percent per year from 2017 through 2025 as proposed. The baseline for calculating revenue losses is the U.S. Treasury's February 2009 projections of HTF revenues. As new cars and light trucks are purchased in the future and old ones retired, average fuel economy will improve, reducing the 2009 forecast of gasoline sales and HTF revenues.

The HTF is already taking a revenue hit with the standards put in place in 2010, Buechner says. From fiscal years 2010-2016, he estimates that action will cost the HTF about $9 billion. Thus, if the new standards are enacted, the total loss of revenue for transportation improvements through 2025 is projected at $75 billion.

Given the nation's overwhelming infrastructure needs, Ruane said the nearly two-year overdue federal highway and transit program reauthorization bill provides a ripe opportunity for Congress and the President to identify all possible options to generate the revenues necessary to maintain and improve the system.

Established in 1902 and headquartered in the Nation's Capital, ARTBA represents the public and private sectors of the U.S. transportation design and construction industry.

The latest reports indicate that Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks will be increased from 34.1 miles per gallon in 2016 to a fleet-wide average of 54.5 mpg by 2025.

The table included in the linked image shows the potential impact of actual and proposed increases in CAFE standards on Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenues during the next six-year reauthorization period and the subsequent decade.

The table assumes the required increase in CAFE standards through 2016 will occur and that the standard will be increased 5.0 percent per year from 2017 through 2025, as proposed. The baseline for calculating revenue losses is the U.S. Treasury's February 2009 projections of HTF revenues. As new cars and light trucks are purchased in the future and old ones retired, average fuel economy will improve, reducing the 2009 forecast of gasoline sales and HTF revenues by the amounts shown in the table. The baseline for computing percentage losses is total HTF revenues, which includes diesel fuel and truck tax revenues that are unchanged from the February 2009 baseline.