What's the Latest Development?
The government should immediately increase the national gasoline tax, say a team of MIT scientists who want the nation to cut back on its use of petroleum-based fuel for automobile transportation. Such an increase is long overdue, they argue. "The current federal gasoline tax, 18.4 cents a gallon, has been essentially stable since 1993; in inflation-adjusted terms, it’s fallen by 40 percent since then." Increasing gas taxes is a politically sensitive issue, perhaps now more than ever, so the government has instituted higher fuel-efficiency standards to save on gasoline use instead.
What's the Big Idea?
The problem with raising fuel-efficiency standards, according to the MIT scientists, is that owners of the 230 million cars currently on the road will have no incentive to decrease their use of gasoline until they buy a new car. "A higher gas tax would help fix crumbling highways while also generating money that could help offset the impact on low- and middle-income families. Increasing the tax, as part of a bipartisan budget deal, with a clear explanation to the public of its role in lowering oil imports and improving our air and highways, could be among the most important energy decisions we make."
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