Thursday, March 20, 2008

Do You Want Higher Gas Taxes?

By Alan Caruba

My friends at the National Center for Public Policy Research have just released the results of new nationwide survey. They asked people if they were willing to pay higher taxes on gasoline in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Before I give you the response they received, let us understand that the primary greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), has virtually nothing to do with climate change. It is a tiny 0.038% of the entire atmosphere and scientists tell us that any increase or decrease in this minuscule amount always follows climate change. Thus, it plays no role in either increasing the warming or cooling of the Earth.

I know you have been told otherwise, but the people telling you this are lying. Al Gore is lying. Members of Congress are lying. Candidates for president are lying. And a President who tells you that Americans are “addicted” to oil is lying. You cannot be addicted to something that is required for the functioning of the entire economy.

The Center’s poll found that just 18% of Americans were willing to pay 50 cents or more in additional taxes per gallon of gas for the stated purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. U.S. Representative John Dingell (D-MI), the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, has called for a 50 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax.

It is a fact of governance that once a new or increased tax is imposed, it never goes away. Politicians always find ways to spend the money and, in the United States, very little of it has found its way to the maintenance of our highway and bridge infrastructure. There’s not much drama in telling constituents that you’re repaving a stretch of highway or fixing a bridge in need of repair.

The environmentalists, along with the politicians in their pocket, i.e., the Democrat Party and some bewildered Republicans, keep telling us we are in imminent danger of global warming, but drivers who encountered this winter’s often record-setting snowfall nationwide might reasonably and rationally conclude that is hogwash. The frost line has been steadily moving southward and is now somewhere beyond Tallahassee.

As the Center points out, “According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for 33% of the U.S.’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions.” About 20% of all emissions result from burning gasoline in personal automobiles. Some of the rest comes from those awful plants that generate electricity. Don’t want to drive? Don’t want electricity?

By framing any increase in terms of conservation or a threat to the environment, American drivers are being set up by the plunderers in Washington, DC. Picking the pockets of American drivers with an increased gasoline tax is very tempting, but the reason given is without any scientific merit or defense. No one is going to drive less.

In Europe, where they pay $4 and $5 per gallon of gas in taxes, they are still driving around despite these prices.

Americans understandably do not want to spend more for gasoline. The world does not lack for oil, but America lacks sufficient refining capacity for our needs. We are actually importing gasoline.

A new refinery would cost at least cost a billion dollars and take five years to come online. The government doesn’t build refineries. Oil companies do and how encouraged do you think they feel when one of the candidates for president openly says she wants to take away their profits?

We are way behind the curve on this because environmentalists have created a matrix of EPA laws and regulations that make it extremely difficult to build a refinery.

At the same time, the same Congress that would want to raise gasoline taxes has banned the discovery and extraction of the oil reserves we possess in places like ANWR or off the U.S. continental shelf. If “Big Oil” had real influence with Congress, this would not be the case, but it does not.

If the public has anything to say about it—and Congress has long since stopped paying any attention to voters—Congressman Dingell’s proposal to raise gasoline taxes would be dead-on-arrival.

As the Center’s vice president, David A. Ridenour, says, the question isn’t whether Americans want action on global warming, but whether they are willing to pay for it.
The real question Americans are beginning to ask is whether global warming is happening. It isn’t. The only warming is perfectly natural, a bare one degree Fahrenheit since about 1850 when a 500-year mini-ice age ended.

Americans have been told they have to spend money recycling everything they use and throw away when all it does is needlessly add to the cost of waste management. They’ve been told that our national forests are disappearing when we still have 70% of those that existed when the Pilgrims arrived. They’ve been told they can and should save all manner of species when the natural order of things is that species go extinct.

Wilson Policy Research conducted the poll February 24-26. For results, visit the Center at and download the pdf. The Center is a non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation established in 1982. It supports commonsense, market-based solutions to environmental problems.

The problem is that there is precious little commonsense when it comes to the environment. The EPA isn’t even permitted to consider the cost of many of its mandates when it imposes some new insane standard for “cleaning” the air or water. It considers rain puddles to be “wetlands.”

Almost nothing about the claims and demands of environmentalists make sense, unless you look behind the curtain and discover that most of them involve destroying the U.S. economy and the principle of private property.


Longstreet said...

Right on, Alan!

Alan Caruba said...

Bhuvan: Thanks for sharing word of your blog with me.

I have an article forthcoming in a journal published in India regarding the need for more nuclear energy there. More electricity, no emissions. What a good environmentalist I am!