PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon on Wednesday kicked off its first-in-the-nation program to charge car owners for the miles they drive, rather than the fuel they use.
The program, called OReGO, is meant to help the state raise more revenue to pay for road and bridge projects at a time when money generated from gasoline taxes are declining across the country, in part, because of greater fuel efficiency and the increasing popularity of fuel-efficient, hybrid and electric cars.
Starting Wednesday, up to 5,000 volunteers in Oregon could sign up to drive with devices that collect data on how much they have driven and where. The volunteers will agree to pay 1.5 cents for each mile traveled on public roads within Oregon, instead of the tax now added when filling up at the pump.
State officials say it is only fair for owners of green vehicles to be charged for maintaining roads, just as owners of gasoline-powered vehicles do.
Some electric and hybrid car owners, however, say the new tax would be unfair to them and would discourage purchasing of green vehicles.
Washington, California, Idaho, Colorado and other states are considering similar programs. Oregon conducted two pilot projects to test road usage charging, and the 2013 Legislature to created the OReGO program.
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