Saturday, January 13, 2007

Taxing Oil

My dad sent me Thomas Friedman's piece on Gerald Ford, "The First Energy President."
Still, Ford wasn't just all talk on energy. He used his presidential powers to impose a $3-a-barrel fee on imported oil to reduce consumption. That was a big deal, noted Verleger, because the average cost of imported crude at the time was only $10.76 a barrel.

Yes, you read that right. A Republican president actually imposed an import fee on oil to curb consumption! Yes, President Bush, it can be done!

The republic survived! Thanks to the Energy Policy Conservation Act of 1975 and other measures, Ford's energy legacy includes: the creation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for use in an emergency; the phasing out of domestic price controls on oil to encourage more exploration; major investment in alternative energy research; assistance to states in developing energy conservation programs; and, most important, the creation of the first compulsory mileage standards for U.S. automobiles.

Those mileage standards have barely been tightened since 1975 -- because some idiotic congressmen from Michigan, who thought they were protecting Detroit, have blocked efforts to raise them. So, Japanese automakers innovated more in that area, and the rest is history -- or in the case of Detroit, obituary.
You can read the rest here. I cited the part about the $3 a barrel tax on foreign oil over at Blondesense in response to an article about the Obama/McCain/Lieberman climate bill, which proposes to "solves the global warming problem without weakening the nation's economic position or imposing hardship on its citizens." by creating a new system of regulating emissions on industry and power generators, and a system to trade emission credits.

I called it "Magic Bill That Solves Global Warming By Creating A New Bureaucracy Without Asking That Americans Do Anything On A Personal Level." But it's better than not even talking about the issue. I think Americans actually would welcome the chance to take specific steps towards controlling greenhouse gases, and towards lessening our dependence on Mideast-crazy oil. But we don't want to see our individual efforts wasted or, worse, exploited by some energy hog on the next block or the next generation of Enron. We need a national energy policy, one that challenges each of us to live in a way that leads to a future we aren't afraid of.

No comments: