Gas tax

Posted by Nate in Bike Commuting, Politics.
Wednesday, April 12th, 2006 at 1:31 pm

[ Because I’ve started biking to work, I "get to" write this post. So there. ]

You heard it from the man, we’re "addicted to oil." A lot of people are suggesting a gas tax as a way to reduce our oil consumption – if it costs more, they reason, people will drive less, take public transportation, or buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

But will they? Gas prices here are up around 50 cents from a year ago, and while I can’t find any figures right now to back this up my hunch is that no one is changing their driving habits. Sure, some people are buying hybrids (if they can afford them), but most people (K and I) have just been sucking up the increase. How long can that go on? What kind of tax are we talking about to get people to actually drive less? Is $3/gal the magic threshold? Are people ok with paying this much for now because they think – like last year – it will fall back to a more "reasonable" level? And then what will people do once gas finally reaches that "too much" number? The public transportation in most cities simply will not cut it in the form it exists today. Am I really asking everyone to ride a bike every day?

No. Not yet, anyway… In the meantime I do think there should be some sort of new gas tax, but not without protections to make sure it’s not a regressive tax. At the minimum it should be offset by tax deductions for low to mid income earners. The rest of the revenue should be put into 1. new public transportation infrastucture (not just more roads for more cars), 2. campaigns for alternative transportation, and 3. increased tax breaks for purchases of super fuel-efficent vehicles. Those are all Good Things. Oh yeah, and we should also increase (by a lot) the mandatory fuel efficiency ratings for new vehicles – hopefully #3 will help with that.

So I’m stopping short (for now) of telling everyone to ride their bike all the time, but I think I’ll have enough "get to" points built up by next year if I bike through the winter. So there.

[ …The bike ride in today was wonderful: spring is everywhere, things are blooming, the temperature is fantastic, I arrive at work with my brain engaged and awake, I’m getting exercise and saving money. Awesome. ]

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2 Responses to “Gas tax”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    If the “powers that be” would just open their eyes and realize that part of the solution is more refineries, it would help. The Alaska pipeline isn’t even pumping to its capacity and several pumping stations are shut down because we don’t have enough refineries to handle the oil it can produce. Instead of certain people pushing to do start digging in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, maybe they should be pushing for the refineries so we can step up the production of the pipeline. Had this been done several years ago, just maybe this whole problem wouldn’t have arisen. It seems to me that I recall one of the powers in the Middle East even telling the president quite a while ago that they could send more oil, but there was no point in doing so, since we couldn’t handle it anyway.

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