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Friday, May 16, 2008

Gas Tax Pain

From a new Fossil Fuel Watch by Michael Vickerman:

Could there be more convincing proof of America’s debilitating addiction to oil than the recent calls to institute a gasoline tax holiday issued by two of the three presidential aspirants still in the race?

Imagine what would happen if a candidate for public office endorsed a repeal of cigarette taxes. Articulating such a position would instantly disqualify that candidate from serious consideration by rank and file voters. Indeed, it would stop a candidacy faster than you can say “macaca.”

Yet, while Sens. John McCain or Hillary Clinton, both advocates of suspending the 18.4 cents/gallon gasoline tax, have been excoriated in editorials for espousing such patent flim-flam, they don’t seem to have lost any ground with the voting public.

While the McCain-Clinton gas tax suspension proposal may have a set a new low in the public discussion of energy, it can’t be dismissed as mere election-year pandering. Instead, this proposal reveals a dark truth about ourselves: we Amnericans are psychologically unprepared to accept the energy reality we now inhabit, which is that oil is neither cheap nor plentiful (relative to demand). The same holds true for natural gas.

The factors converging to create global energy insecurity—diminishing output from supergiant fields, rapid demand growth in the world’s most populous nations, civil unrest in oil-exporting nations, etc.—cannot be held at bay with political stunts.

Whether its citizens like it or not, the United States will, going forward, consume a smaller portion of the Earth’s remaining petroleum than at any time before during the Automobile Age.

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