Saturday, January 9, 2010

Did we start on the green brick road in 2009?

My fellow blogger Mark blogged about gasoline taxes and hiway funds in the previous blog. The data for 2009 US gasoline consumption just came out and once again the average Joe is using more gasoline than they did in 2008 when prices were higher. This got me thinking of a super gasoline tax to make a real dent in gasoline consumption. Here is the Green Machine's idea on this.

Like Dorothy in the wizard of Oz we are also searching for the Emerald Green City at the end of the Yellow Brick Road. Our President went all the way to Copenhagen Denmark to tell the other world leaders that the USA is changing its course and will emit far less carbon dioxide in 2020 than we did in 2005. Is this path forward a fantasy toward that emerald green future or are we really going to do it this time? The reality lies somewhere between fantasy and achievability. The USA is the Saudi Arabia of energy waste and we certainly can be much more efficient.

It is the New Year and also a new decade so can we turn over a new green leaf so to speak? Certainly we can be far greener in our daily lives. Collectively and primarily due to the recession the US lowered its carbon emission in 2009 by five point six percent over 2008. While most of the reduction in emissions was due to lowered industrial output, there is no doubt that leading corporations, institutions, and our federal, state and local governments have all embraced the idea of a more fuel efficient future. Many citizens are also keen to green up. However, the citizens of the good old US of A need to put their green money where their mouths are. In 2009 gasoline usage increased by zero point two percent over 2008 when gasoline was extremely expensive. This is a pathetic indictment of the average citizen who simply drives more when gasoline costs less.

I suggest a gasoline tax of at least one dollar a gallon to drive fuel economy. We consume one hundred and thirty eight billion gallons of gasoline a year in these United States. One hundred and thirty eight billion dollars a year could do quite a bit to help America green up. Each of the two hundred and fifty million citizens over age five should be given a bicycle (made in America of course) by our government. At two hundred dollars a bicycle this will only cost the government fifty billion dollars and is needed for only one year. If just ten percent of the citizens then use the bicycles instead of their cars and trucks we would make a dent in the gasoline consumption. The fifty billion dollar stimulus to produce all those bicycles will employ at least a million folks for the year and at least at the end of the year we will have bicycles instead of billions given to fat bankers who I doubt can balance a bicycle yet alone a balance sheet.

The remaining eighty eight billion dollars should be spent as follows: Forty four million motorists will be selected at random and each given two thousand dollars for the year if and only if they carpool at least three times a week with at least one other person. This would mean one hundred and thirty two million less car trips a week. The average car trip to and from work consumes two gallons of gasoline. Doing the requisite math with folks carpooling fifty weeks in the year we would save thirteen point eight billion gallons of gasoline or ten percent of all the gasoline we consume. Combining the bicycles with the carpooling I have already presented policy that can achieve the seventeen percent energy savings in gasoline simply by a tax on gasoline. You see there really is an Emerald Green City with fewer cars, more bicycles and not so scared crows with brains. All it takes is leadership from the lying kings of the concrete jungle who are not cowards.


  1. I agree on the gasoline tax. There's nothing like a hefty, enforced, pro-rated payment to change attitude. Moving to the UK I still find it incredible how few SUV's and other large cars one sees on the road here (or elsewhere in Europe) compared to the US. Why this difference? Right now in the UK a (US) gallon of petrol (gas) costs about $7. What is it right now in California? About $3.30? There's such a long way to go... but my question is, where are you going to find the politician willing to make such an unpopular decision?

  2. Lindsay what can we do to get you to become Sec of the Environment to get some sense and sensibility into DC ??

  3. Hi Paul and Neels. You guys in the UK certainly make us look gangrene. DC is owned by big oil and I would be kicked out of my post in five minutes. Stanford U and Berkeley are owned by big oil as well so we will not get good policy from academics. gasoline in California is about $ 3 a gallon and in the average US city it is $2.70 a gallon. The average Gringo buys about 700 gallons a year and it costs $2,100 a year for gasoline for their overweight vehicles to move their overweight bodies. Now that I vanpool and I get about $2,000 a year from my employer and pay zilch for transport I use less than 250 gallons a year for my car. The van holds ten people and we typically have seven and it uses 1,000 gallons a year so my share of the van gasoline usage is about 150 gallons so my usage of gasoline is now 400 gallons a year versus an average of 700 gallons. If Obama would just follow my advice rather than the nincompoops he has around him he would then really deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. Hey did you hear that Tiger just was awarded the Nobel Piece Prize. I hear it is bloody cold in the UK, good thing you drink your beer warm