Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 8, 2016

The Geopolitical Argument for Higher Gas Taxes

Congressional efforts to keep gasoline prices low are missing the big picture, says the head of the International Energy Agency.

“If I look at your gasoline prices – wow – I see that they’re quite a bit lower than what we pay in Europe,” Maria van der Hoeven said Monday at a conference held by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. “The main reason is your gasoline taxes.”

The relatively low level of U.S. gasoline tax, which has not been raised for two decades, constitutes a subsidy that encourages wasteful use, she said, identifying such subsidies as a key target in the fight against climate change. Beyond revenue for localities, higher taxes would curb use, leaving more product for export, she argued.

“From a global perspective, I just urge you to take a hard look,” van der Hoeven said.

While many lawmakers remain loath to hit voters at the pump, Sens. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., last month agreed that a $0.12 increase on gasoline tax would be one way to prop up the Highway Trust Fund.

Van der Hoeven urged the United States to not to fall into complacency amid a boom of shale oil and gas, citing projections for oil production to plateau in coming years, which she said will lead to a growing reliance on Middle East.

On the other hand, she argued, conserving resources could enhance the nation’s geopolitical position.

“Energy security is about much more than supply,” she said.

Comments (49)

  1. PortageMain

    July 14, 2014
    12:59 p.m.

    “The relatively low level of U.S. gasoline tax, which has not been raised for two decades, constitutes a subsidy that encourages wasteful use, she said…”

    Money left in our pockets is a wasteful use of it? Presumably Mrs. van der Hoeven believes that increase the gas tax and giving more money to government would be a better use for it. Breaktaking. Only a statist Eurocrat who thinks government is the answer to everything could say that with a straight face.

  2. David S. McQueen

    July 14, 2014
    7:54 p.m.

    Notice the subtle nuance of guilt directed at Americans. According to the socialist van der Hoeven, Americans’ failure to pay more taxes is the problem and they should feel ashamed. However, I’d remind Maria that Milton Friedman once wrote, “The private automobile industry is able to produce all the automobiles anybody wants to drive, but the government is apparently not able to produce a comparably adequate highway system. . .”

  3. Layla

    July 15, 2014
    12:34 a.m.

    American families CANNOT afford these increases right now. Employment is stagnant and the economy is only growing at 2%. Inflation is rising and families cannot keep up. We are not Europe, we do not have mass transportation in every city as an alternative.

    When did the government of the United States stop caring about it’s people? When did everything become about politics, about winning, about control?

    It is time to send home any Representative of the People who does not understand that the needs of American citizens MUST COME FIRST.

    We have an election in November. VOTE!

  4. peter laes

    July 18, 2014
    2:22 p.m.

    The hard facts is the we don’t have the funds right now to properly fund all the repairs needed to keep our highways and bridges safe and open. An increase in the sales tax is the fairest method of getting these funds – it would affect those who use our roads the most and reward those who have learned to practice some conservation – the more you drive, the more you use the roads – the more you pay. The tax has not been increased in over 2 decades, yet the cost of updating, repairing and builig our highways and bridges has increased.

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