January 5, 2009 9:30 AM, EST

Panel Recommends Federal Fuel Tax Increases

Susan Goldman/Bloomberg News

A commission created by Congress plans to release a report this month recommending increases in the federal taxes on diesel fuel and gasoline, the Associated Press reported.

The National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing will recommend that Congress increase the diesel tax by 12 to 15 cents per gallon, AP said. It is currently 24.4 cents per gallon.

The panel will ask Congress to raise the gas tax, currently 18.4 cents per gallon, 10 additional cents per gallon.

Both fuel taxes would be tied to inflation under the commission's plan, AP said.

Roads and bridges need to be built and repaired, commission members told AP, but as Americans drive less and use more fuel-efficient vehicles, revenue from fuel taxes is falling.

The commission will recommend that Congress move toward a system in which drivers are taxed according to how much they use roads, not how much fuel they purchase, AP said.

American Trucking Associations Chairman Charles "Shorty" Whittington told AP that Congress may disguise a fuel tax as a surcharge to curb climate change.

Traffic congestion costs the trucking industry 243 million truck hours and $7.8 billion per year, the commission said.