Oregon Mulls Mileage, Not Gas, Tax

State worries about tax shortfall as vehicles get more efficient
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2009 9:57 AM CST
Gas and diesel prices are displayed on a large billboard along Interstate 5 in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, June 4, 2008.    (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
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(Newser) – Worried that the rise of fuel-efficient and hybrid cars will wipe out revenue for road repair, Oregon is considering taxing drivers by the mile instead of by the gallon, reports the AP. Lawmakers—aware that hiking gas tax is a political kiss of death—believe a mileage tax is the way of the future, though critics have voiced privacy concerns and fears that the tax will kill the financial incentive to buy efficient cars.

The state has already tried a pilot program, equipping 300 vehicles with GPS monitoring devices that measure when, where, and how far a vehicle was driven, and sent the information to service station pumps. With its small auto sales market, Oregon won't be able to go it alone, but a half dozen other states and a congressional commission are also exploring the mileage tax idea.