americans logging fewer miles

I’ve been calling for a gas tax since I started this blog over five years ago. I was of the opinion that we would never move to break our dependence on foreign (global warming producing) oil as long as it was cheap, and I wanted to change that. My thought at the time was that we should tax gas so that it sold for $4 a gallon. The revenues raised by doing this, I suggested, could be put into public transportation subsidies, alternative energy research, and job training programs. It never happened, but gas still hit the $4 a gallon mark. And, aside from the pain being felt by hard-working American families, and the fact that all the profits are going to oil company shareholders instead of the projects I was pushing for, the results have been good. Not only have the sales of SUVs plummeted, but according to information just released by the Department of Transportation Americans are driving substantially less. Here’s a clip from MarketWatch:

Total vehicle miles driven fell in March by 4.3%, or 11 billion miles, to 246.3 billion miles, compared with the year earlier. It was the largest year-over-year decline in miles driven since the government began keeping records in 1942.

Who would have thought that the solution to global warming could be so easy? All we had to do was decrease our oversight of oil and gas companies. Their unchecked greed did the rest… Thank you, Exxon… And thank you, President Bush.

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  1. Posted May 26, 2008 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    I was always a proponent of higher taxes on gas too. Public transit could have easily been funded by it. Mark, see my post earlier today on oil production peaking. Yes oil companies are making lots of dollars. They will continue to make lots of dollars until we bring on line the alternative energies that today’s and tomorrow’s prices will finally make economically feasible.

    Hopefully the companies getting rich today will be able to do with those dollars as much good as the government could have done with them. Hmmmmm, is this more of the Libertarian debate? I’m willing to bet the government could have done better than the corporations will, if only we could keep other hands out of the kitty.

  2. Posted May 27, 2008 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    There is an opposite oil approach: Run it all out as fast a possible. Bring on the Oil Rapture!

    The inevitable / Malthusian political and corporate upheaval will be so entertaining.

    As an atheist, I believe we’ll actually reach peak oil. (Because oil comes from finite dino corpses, not unlimited Leighton-caused angel tears.)

    I’m doing my part by driving a vehicle that gets 5mpg 2500 miles a week, commuting in a muscle car, and vacationing in other states.

    Seriously, if you want to reduce carbon footprints: stop eating meat and get your gonads removed. Livestock farts and child consumption add to greenhouse gas production far more than buying veggies from California instead of Washtenaw County.

  3. Brackache
    Posted May 27, 2008 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    “Who would have thought that the solution to global warming could be so easy? All we had to do was decrease our oversight of oil and gas companies. Their unchecked greed did the rest… Thank you, Exxon… And thank you, President Bush.”

    Triumph of market forces… not really free market since regulations intervene in drilling and refinery building… want freedom to drive SUV’s… interventionist war profitteering… think much of environmentalist fear-mongering politically-motivated… I think my opinion temporarily dropped its transmission on this one.

  4. bee
    Posted May 27, 2008 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    oh, but let’s not forget the arctic! there’s always more, always more…

  5. Posted May 27, 2008 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    The oil rapture! That made me laugh. I’ve made quite a few connections and correlations in my time, but that one escaped me… until now. So that was Bush’s plan all along. Push ahead The Rapture by driving your kids a mile from home to play soccer in the family Escalade everyday. Use up all the oil with nothing to replace it with and then watch as the civilized world disintegrates before your eyes. Nice.

  6. Ol' E Cross
    Posted May 27, 2008 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    I finally find myself doing trip calculations in my head. E.g., it costs me 8 bucks for my daughter to visit grandma. I love her and all, but 8 bucks? That’s 40 ounces at the CB. Christmas and birthdays might be good enough.

    And, yes, BA. Free market forces (with government accomplices). Still, I find myself wishing I was living in one of those liberal spending areas where the locals had enough foresight/gumption to build some damn decent rail lines. The folks feeling the pinch the least are all those east/west coast hippies who are riding high on their token fueled transportation.

    I’d much rather pay a couple bucks and share the cost with other commuters on my way to grandmammies than pay Exxon in excess for the privilege of wearing out my tires and transmission all alone.

    In theory, I suppose I’m still happy about the $4. Practically, it’s sucking me dry.

  7. mark
    Posted May 27, 2008 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    I’m all for constructing a giant wick, sending it down into the Earth, and lighting it? Whatever it takes to move up the rapture.

  8. Posted May 28, 2008 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    I live in a little country. Only 5 million people. Here a gallon costs about 6 USD, but 56% of the price is only the tax!!!! I ask, it is still normal??? And it is not about the environment, it is all about the money. Our government do not support searching for alternative sources of energy, I know because I study that and we have no money for research, even if we ask for money for real and useful things. The government, which we have now, supports only the stupidest people, because there are lots of them and it is easy to caught their votes, because they do not think about the future… I would like to move somewhere, where the whole system is normal…

  9. Posted May 28, 2008 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Susan – You may find that not doing research on alternative energy is cheaper in the long run. Let all the big countries and companies do the work, then work from that.

    Until then, Drive Slowly! ;-)


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