by Vice President Chuck Shank
I’m writing about a concern of mine that has been developing since 1992 when I was hired as Senior Transportation Planner for Kitsap County. There is a completely false and unnecessary initiative moving forward in our state and particularly in the Puget Sound Region, to convert our highway system funding from gas tax to ubiquitous electronic tolls.
This is being done and locally required by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), in order to accommodate the switch over from privately owned gas powered vehicles to electric vehicles and a colossal mass transit/pedestrian trail system. This is based upon the now discredited notion that “excess” carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that is affecting the Earth’s climate and man-made production must be curtailed in order to prevent supposed environmental disaster.
This false assertion was derived from the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change, whose various scientists collaborated to force conclusion that manmade CO2 was causing catastrophic global warming. We now know they cooked the books and per all computer models garbage in yields garbage out.
The supposed environmental movement pushing this agenda is in reality an arm of the progressive movement, whose attack on American liberty can best be served by preventing private auto and public highway ownership. Vilifying the corporate oil and gas industry is a constant theme – why?
The PSRC plans that electric vehicles and electronic tollgates replace our existing gas powered vehicles and gas-tax funded public highway system. Although their plan suggests electronic tolls will not be in place until the year 2030, environmentalists commenting on the plan and sitting on the Transportation Policy Board, want them active quickly – by 2020.
They plan on introducing them to the public through the High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane charade coupled with a public information campaign. Firstly, you already paid for the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes that you are unable to use most of the time, but you will be required to pay again for using them as HOT lanes. Secondly, the public information campaign is quite simply, propaganda designed to get you to be a ‘true believer’.
You will see well-organized environmental rallies in Olympia while the struggling taxpayers are busy trying to earn livings, unaware of the campaign against their liberty.
Please do not support any legislation that changes our highway funding from gas tax to electronic tolls. The PSRC is requiring this change in various corridors in the Puget Sound Region with the intent to have it become the norm on all principal arterials – state and interstate freeways, within a few short years. Additionally, the PSRC is using Federal funding to increase public support for the tolls and transit/tracking program through a massive “education” campaign – all based on false premises and ruinous to our economy and liberty.
Please educate your elected representatives to this process and exhort them to get back to the State Constitution’s provisions for gas tax funding of all publicly owned highways. Tolls have always been and should always be used to pay off specific projects like Bridges – let’s keep it that way!
When electronic tolls replace the constitutionally protected gas tax revenue, the Legislature will have unrestricted access to highways funds, since the system-wide electronic tolls will not be project specific. It would be entirely possible to deposit these monies into the general fund, a long coveted objective of the Legislature, truly the icing on the cake.
Once established in the four PSRC counties, it will become the norm for the entire state via the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) collaboration with the other Regional Transportation Planning Organizations (RTPO’s) in Counties along the I-5 corridor or I-90 through Spokane, as examples.
The net effect of this trend is to completely wreck our mobility based economy under the guise of “environmental protection”.
If persons want to purchase electric vehicles that’s up to them, but their contribution to highway funding can easily come from an annual certified odometer check and commensurate mileage fee when they renew their vehicle tabs. There is absolutely no need to force all other vehicle owners to begin paying tolls when the gas tax works perfectly well.
We have the liberty still to let our purchases determine what products are successful and what are not. God forbid that the Puget Sound Regional Council can dictate transportation choices based on an elaborate international lie.