Hurricanes and Gas Taxes (cont.)
With more than a month left of the hurricane season and layer of extra-warm water stubbornly hanging out in the Gulf of Mexico, it would be unwise to rule out the possibility of another monstrous hurricane attacking the Gulf Coast. As we discussed in the previous post, the Gulf Coast is chock full of oil refineries, and thanks in part to damage some of those refineries have already experienced fuel costs have jumped over the past month.
In an effort to ease the burden of $3-a-gallon gasoline, lawmakers across the country have been considering measures to suspend gas taxes. Cynthia Tucker, of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, thinks this approach ignores the fundamental problem. A rise in gas prices would likely encourage some much-needed conservation, she says, and free market conservatives in particular should support the market's upward pressure on the cost of oil, right? Apparently not. "Rather than confront the hard truth -- that a sustained campaign against terrorists will demand sacrifices from all of us," Tucker writes, "our leaders pretend that we can keep doing things the way we've always done them."
A Sacramento Bee editorial echoes the call for sacrifice at this time when the nation is involved in so many expensive endeavors. The Bee mentions the idea of a instituting an additional energy tax (to encourage conservation) and an "excess oil profits tax" -- but it does not expressly say whether the editorial board favors or opposes these ideas.
Rising prices might help wean Americans off this dangerous dependence on foreign oil -- which Thomas Friedman pointed out on Meet the Press yesterday has left us "funding both sides of the war on terror" by purchasing fuel from "some of the worst regimes in the world." A $1 per gallon gas tax could be used to fund education and other national priorities, he said, and would have the likely effect of lowering the profit margin for the oil suppliers.
Really, though, it's not just foreign oil that is the problem; it's also the concentration of refineries along the vulnerable Gulf Coast. The New York Daily News editorialized shortly after Katrina hit: "As the Gulf Coast limps toward recovery, it would behoove a rethinking of this concentration of facilities as not in the national interest."
By Emily Messner |
September 26, 2005; 10:37 AM ET
Previous: Hurricanes, Refineries and How Oil Prices Could Afftect Post-Katrina Reconstruction | Next: Operation Offset: Best Way to Pay for Rebuilding the Gulf Coast?
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