There has been much talk recently about the “problem” of high gas prices. It’s becoming difficult to keep up with all the proposed solutions. US President George W. Bush and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain recently suggested we life a federal moratorium that prevents coastal drilling. Mr. Bush has also stepped up his fight to begin poking holes in a pristine Arctic wildlife preserve. Those ideas may go far to win the vote of the stupid class, but they will not do anything to reduce prices at the pump.
Yes, we need to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. But that’s not the worst effect of our addiction to the sweet black stuff. Worse than geopolitical instability and a flailing economy is the devestating impact combusting fossil fuels is having on our environment. Domesticating our oil supply will do nothing to decrease the release of CO2 into the atmosphere.
John McCain and Hillary Clinton both proposed a gas tax vacation this summer to reduce the burden rising fuel costs is having on the American family. Few proposals could be more stupid and short sighted. What we need is for the American people to abandon their gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles and start using public transportation whenever possible.
What we really need is, as Barack Obama suggested, a Apollo/Manhatten Project class push to develop clean renewable alternatives. The longer gas prices remain affordable to the American people the longer it will be until real money is invested in alternatives.
The federal government needs to immediately pass legislation that would set a minimum gas price that would rise incrementally to $7 per gallon by 2010. Automobile manufacturers would instantly retool to meet customer demands for fuel-efficient alternative energy vehicles. Scientists and engineers would immediately be put to work developing better fuel cells and batteries. Alternative energy companies would spring up to develop the technologies to supply the increased demand for clean electricity.
It would be expensive, yes, but it would be the best investment in America’s viability since The New Deal. High paying jobs would be created. Education would improve in the areas of math and science. Our air would be cleaner. America’s reputation around the world would be strengthened.
The increased revenue from the gas tax could be used to improve infrastructure; invest in research, development and education; and offset the cost burdens on the poorest Americans. It wouldn’t be easy, initially, but it’s the right thing to do. Our current addiction to oil and the policies which enable it are unsustainable.