The Obama administration recently proposed a “21st Century Clean Transportation System” funded by a $10 per barrel fee on oil phased in over five years. The fee would raise $32 billion annually for roads and bridges, public transit, rail, and clean vehicle research. Unfortunately, the House Majority Whip says the oil fee is an absurd proposal that will be dead on arrival.
The oil fee should not be dismissed so quickly. Thirty percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are related to transportation, and by reducing them the proposed system would fight global warming. Moreover, the history of a fossil fuel fee in British Columbia since 2008 shows that gasoline use has declined with no harm to the economy.
Of course, the oil industry will fight the Obama proposal just as fiercely as it has opposed climate change legislation in California. The Western States Petroleum Association, for example, recently disclosed spending $10,949,149.83 for “payments to influence” California legislators in 2015. One result was that a mandate to cut gasoline use in half by 2030 was removed from a major bill (SB 350). However, such a reduction could be achieved by a national clean transportation system if Congress would support it.
Ruth Afifi, Fresno