Thank China, India, Brazil and Africa for Green Transportation Technology, Not Gas Taxes

Last week, I was invited to give a speech on the future of transportion finance at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation in Atlanta. A nice summary of my main points was reported by GPPF’s Mike Klein. My entire presentation can be found on Youtube, and my powerpoint presentation is available from GPPF’s site.

One of my more important points was that rising gas prices (not the dwindling gas tax) were going to drive our move toward cleaner and more fuel efficient vehicles–without public subsidy. We’re not going to give up our cars, so we’ll find new technologies to fuel them regardless of what government subsidizes now (or later):

“Transportation issues are second and third order priorities in Washington, DC. They are never first order priorities. Transportation will never be able to compete for the attention of congressmen when they have to deal with Medicare, Medicaid, defense, flare-ups in the Middle East, you name it. There are going to be a dozen or more issues that are going to rise to more important levels than transportation.

“To be honest, the reason we have been able to do as well as we have up until now is because most of our presidents have ignored transportation, let the transportation secretaries basically handle it, and we’ve had a dedicated revenue stream in terms of the gas tax to fund it.

“The gas tax is going to be gone within the next 20 or 30 years. Some people think it’s the green technology investments that will drive it. It’s really not. It’s India, China, Brazil and Africa. As their growth begins to ratchet up the demand for oil …that is going to put the pressure on gas prices in the U.S. If you think $4 a gallon is bad, it’s going to get worse. But here’s the key: We’re not going to give up our cars. What we’re going to do is figure out a different way to power those cars. We’re simply going to change the fuel.”