In his May 8 op-ed, “The ballad of the bad CAFE,” Charles Lane got most of his facts right but failed to understand the underlying principle supporting the federal gas tax. Mr. Lane apparently believes that the U.S. gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon was established as a means to limit fuel consumption and energy use. Congress instituted the modern fuel tax about 60 years ago to help fund construction of the interstate highway system. Despite occasional tinkering by Congress, about 85 percent of the tax is still designated for this purpose. Unsurprisingly, in most European Union countries, the gas tax is just another convenient method to fill the treasury. For example, more than half of the gas tax money collected in Germany — roughly 40 billion euros per year — goes straight into the government’s pocket.
One must also consider how such a deeply regressive tax affects the poor, many of whom must use their cars to get to work every day. Unlike the federal fuel tax, CAFE standards were and are intended to improve the environment by reducing fuel use and emissions pollutants. Mr. Lane should not have tried to equate the two requirements.
Paul Rankin, Rockville