We are as upset as anybody at oil companies. And roller-coaster prices are painful for everyone’s budget. But a key ingredient in any reasonably speedy energy-policy fix must be higher gas prices.
That’s particularly true if innovation and technology are to be utilized effectively. A federal gas tax increase of 50 cents or more would assure that there will be a market for new technologies.
[…] Congress should raise gasoline taxes or set minimum oil prices. Democrats might regard that as political poison to their new majority. But addiction to oil is poisoning the environment, weakening public confidence in the economy and undercutting U.S. ability to make wise, independent foreign policy decisions.
No doubt the tripling of gas prices over the past six years has been a hardship for working and middle class Americans, costing many families thousands of dollars a year. But to do nothing is to tacitly approve a course of action that would surely lead American consumers from bad to worse. Between global warming, Middle East security concerns and approaching peak oil, the price of energy is going nowhere but up.
So I’d like to one up the P-I editorial board and suggest that we cannot wait for Congress and the President to act unpopularly, if responsibly. We need to dramatically increase gasoline taxes in Washington state, while amending our state Constitution to permit gasoline tax revenues to be spent on mass transit and alternative energy research and development.
A massive investment in rail and other mass transit infrastructure is the fastest way to get Washington drivers out of their cars and away from the pumps. Meanwhile, given the focus and the money, there is an opportunity for the region to take the lead in the development and manufacturing of the alternative energy technologies of the future, assuring another generation of high tech jobs in the region to accompany those in the aerospace and software industries.
Gasoline prices routinely jump a dollar a gallon with barely a blip in consumption. Wouldn’t you rather the next hike in fuel prices represent an investment in our region’s future, rather than a 9-figure bonus for top Exxon executives?