Editor's Notebook: Thoughts On A Fuel Price Increase
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Editor's Notebook: Thoughts On A Fuel Price Increase

A recent study shows wide support for a 10¢ increase to the national fuel tax, but how would this impact snow contractors bottom lines?


Thankfully, the snow and ice management community hasn't discussed the negative impact of high gas and diesel prices for some time.

Back in 2008, under the shadow of the Great Recession, the industry was buzzing with how it would manage record-high prices for gasoline and diesel fuel. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA) website, gasoline and diesel prices per gallon topped out in mid-July of that year at $4.11 and $4.84, respectively.

Today, according toAAA, those prices are a bit more manageable -- and stable -- at a national average for gasoline and diesel of $2.18 and $2.42, respectively. These prices are down from a 2019 average of $2.71 and $2.99, respectively. Again, these are national averages and don’t take into account price variances across snowbelt states.

While it seems snow and ice management contractors are worrying less about how to manage this operational expense, a recent survey exploring public support for raising federal transportation revenues through gas taxes and mileage fees, the majority of respondents supported a gas tax increase.

While the government has not raised the rate of the federal gas tax since 1993, in April Congress and the Trump administration were considering an increase of 18.4¢ for gasoline and 24.4¢ a gallon for diesel fuel to address infrastructure issues and aid in repairs.

Conducted by The Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University, the national study asked participants if they would support raising the federal gas tax rate by 10¢ per gallon. While 75 percent of respondents support a 10¢ (per gallon) gas tax increase if the revenue raised is dedicated to maintenance projects, only 44% support the same increase if the money is used more generally to maintain and improve the transportation system.

Other findings include:

  • A majority valued the idea of using the gas tax revenue on improvements across different transportation modes, including for both road and public-transit-related projects.
  • If Congress were to adopt a federal mileage fee to replace the gas tax, more than three-quarters would prefer to pay monthly or at the time they buy fuel or charge a vehicle, while 23% preferred to pay an annual bill.
  • Respondents thought mileage fee rates should be lower for electric vehicles than for gas and diesel vehicles.

Taking into account how much fuel your equipment fleet consumes during an average winter, alongside how much gasoline and diesel you could potentially use during an aggressive winter, what sort of impact would a 10¢ per gallon tax have on your bottom line?

Mike Zawacki is editor of Snow Magazine. You can reach him at mzawacki@gie.net.