Drivers in Albany and across Oregon are expected to all be tooling around in electric vehicles in about 30 years. The implication of that gets little discussion as the legislature prepares to pass its plan to force a near-elimination of fossil fuels and the emissions of greenhouse gas.
The program (HB 2020) is likely to get out of the Joint Ways and Means Committee today (June 7) and then be ready for passage by the majority Democrats in the House and Senate next week. By making fossil fuels much more expensive, the majority hopes that greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from motor vehicles, can be forced down to 80 percent below the level of 1990 by 2050.
That means electric vehicles. It also means no more gas tax flowing into the highway fund. Instead, unless it wants to give up on maintaining highways, Oregon will have to impose a road user charge or ROC of the type now available to volunteers in the so-called OReGO program.
But OReGO has not been popular. It’s authorized for up to 5,000 vehicles, but only a few hundred owners signed their vehicles up. Owners pay a 1.7-cent tax per mile and are supposed to get a refund of the gas tax they paid at the pump. It’s a cumbersome system, but under carbon reduction it has to be imposed on everybody.
The system tracks how many miles people drive, and when. It can also track where drivers go, which is why many citizens remain skeptical. Google already keeps track of the movements of its account holders with smartphones, but it’s a private company and you can supposedly turn off the tracking. The mandatory mileage tax required for carbon reduction — combined with congestion management of the type already being talked about — will put government contractors in charge of keeping track how far and where you drive, and you would not be allowed to turn it off.
Virtually eliminating the emission of more greenhouse gases is one thing. But as long as people in Oregon need vehicles, it’s not possible without somebody working for the government keeping constant track of every move we make. (Well, not me. I won’t be here. But you, if you expect to still be driving by 2050.)
So if you don’t like the surveillance now, just wait until you have to live under the no-carbon regime that the majority of Oregon politicians wants to install over the next 30 years. (hh)