Congress is well known for going down roads to nowhere. In the case of the upcoming highway-bill reauthorization, that may be true in a more literal sense. On this occasion, it is Republican members who have come up with a misguided piece of highway robbery that breaches their own longstanding principles. House Republicans have proposed expanding domestic fossil-fuel extraction on federal lands and in offshore areas, and depositing much of the royalty revenue into the federal Highway Trust Fund.
While “drilling for roads” may sound appealing to many conservatives (and expanding domestic energy production should certainly be a top legislative priority), it is short-sighted. Incorporating this new revenue stream would undermine a longstanding funding principle of the Interstate Highway System — that highway users ought to pay for their use of highway infrastructure. This should concern anybody who cares about the future health of our nation’s highways.
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