Now We're Talkin'...(or, "Transit Panel Urges Federal Gas Tax Increase")

The frame is, erm, interesting. ("It's not because we need to destroy demand, it's because we need to pay for the infrastructure to keep demand increasing.") But hey, it's a start. (Here's a link to the story.)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal gasoline taxes should be raised up to 40 cents per gallon over five years, a special commission urged Tuesday in calling for drastic changes to fix aging bridges and roads and reduce traffic deaths.

The two-year study by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission is the first to recommend broad changes after the devastating bridge collapse in Minneapolis last August. It warns that urgent action is needed to avoid future disasters.

Here's a link to the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, which has links to the entire report and some other interesting materials.

It may be a good idea, but it would be political suicide to vote for it. Not going to happen. Even if gas goes to $10 a gallon and it was obvious to everyone that peak oil is real and is here, it still won't happen:

"What?!!! Gas is way too expensive, and your solution to that problem is to make it cost even more?!!!"

Of course, using the money to repair roads would largely be a moot point by then.

Food shortages loom on the horizon; we are facing a financial system disaster because banks are looking more and more insolvent after the housing bubble and the credit derivatives boondoggle; debt levels for government, business and individuals are at historic highs; the fraudulent federal reserve banking system is printing money like there is no tomorrow, pushing prices, destroying the dollar; and the economic pie is about to shrink dramatically due both to oil depletion and dropping EROEI, and due to decades of government driven economic malinvestment.

And now the federal government is thinking of taking more of our diminishing wealth to squander on a road system that only horses and buggies will likely be using. Maybe you would be in a better position to fund your own energy future if you were not being kept down by huge taxes and an economic system rigged in favor of the privileged few at the expense of the many.

I think we, who are interested in this topic of energy, in varying degrees understand the problem of oil depletion, the connection between oil and the accelerated economic and population expansion of the last 70 years, and the likely future consequences of significantly falling oil production. I think it is arrogance on anyone's part to think that he knows which alternatives, already known or to be imagined, will solve the problems, and to think that solution should be imposed upon the rest of us. And it is extreme insanity to think that politicians can command solutions; witness Katrina and the ethanol debacle.

If we expect to minimize the damage from oil depletion, my view is that we will best be served to keep government out of the picture as much as possible. Individuals and businesses will react to the problem and look for alternatives. If there are solutions, they will come from free people, not from government plunder and control, or for someone trying to get government to impose his pet solution.

There is a tendency for people who are afraid to give up freedom for the promise of security. You saw this happen after 9/11 when we allowed intrusions on our liberty via such laws as the Patriot Acts, the Military Commissions Act and the illegal suspension of Habeas Corpus. We did not gain security, but we did lose freedom.

Certainly the economic future is frightening, but again, if we allow our fear to lead us to give up economic freedom in hopes for economic security, we will, as history demonstrates, have neither.

I can't agree that such a proposal for more government and less freedom via a $0.40 gas tax increase will benefit anyone other than bureaucrats and road contractors.

I find myself rather divided on this topic. I don't see that the government currently has a clue what to do with themselves regarding future investments so can understand the "starve the beast" attitude.

On the other hand, governments are one of the key institutions for keeping social cohesion together during times of crisis, are able to redistribute wealth to encourage greater equity, and can invest in the commons, which are in the long run much more valuable than private capital.

But we have mostly lost trust in the very institutions that are required to deal with the unfolding crises. Very sad and frightening.

" to redistribute wealth to encourage greater equity, and can invest in the commons, which are in the long run much more valuable than private capital."

It's hard to take for granted that governments in general and the US government in particular are making positive progress on these fronts. Not to get into the benevolent Big Brother government argument. Just calling out recent track record vis-a-vis the deteriorating income equality in the US.


I am amazed to hear a relocalizer say:

But we have mostly lost trust in the very institutions that are required to deal with the unfolding crises. Very sad and frightening.

We both know the Feds aren't going to do it. It is unlikely the State of Califonia is going to do it nor Mendocino County (where we both live) or the City of Willits where you live.

I vehemently disagree with your statement that existing institutions are required to deal with anything. I'm a deep doomer and I sincerely believe that what it is going to come down to is what "you" do on your own "road." I realize city people don't understand the idea of the country "road." For those not in the boondocks, it's your miniture neighborhood. My "road" has 8-10 people and it covers a few square miles.

In essence, what we are talking about is quasi-secession because that is the only realistic choice in order to survive. We will produce our own power, our own food and our own firewood. We will defend our lands. We will not depend upon a caprecious (sp) outside agency. We will not depend upon relocalization.

This leads to a basic question, "Why not?" Because I can trust these people but we cannot trust anyone else. Does that make sense to you?



Well said,and I believe a very accurate assessment of reality. Those of us who are sufficiently alarmed by the magnitude of what is happening hopefully will follow your lead.


Great statement, a doomer declaration of independence!

100% Todd, 100%

It was not a governmental entity and solution that brought this country into reality.

It was backwoodsmen, Tennessee and Kentucky squirrel hunters and sharpshooters and others of North and South Carolina(or was to be). Men who had hacked a living out of the wilderness and were not going to 'give it up' to some King of a far off country and his redcoats.

It wasn't the 'tories' who knelt to the King either.

Thats who made this country. Independent men who had the will to fight and die for independence and their backwoods farms. Without them and theirs Washington didn't have a chance.

Militiamen, civilian soldiers,hunters and all the rest who weren't sitting on their buttocks in the cities sipping tea and chewing crumpets.
For a source? Read about the Battle of Kings Mountain for instance.
It wasn't fought by bureaucrats and their ilk.

airdale-you get what you can and then you defend it or some carpetbagger steals it

PS. My great great grandfather fought in the War of 1812 and received a land grant.On a portion of that land ,my home town is built on.

I don't understand why you find my statement amazing. I too have basically lost trust in major institutions, hence my push for more local control from people I can relate with directly and have greater trust in and hold accountable. How is that much different that what your position is?

There is a huge distinction between what I would like to happen versus what I think will happen. I would like nation-states to cooperate, enact Oil Depletion Protocols, avoid wars, agree on a fair and rapid means to lower carbon dioxide emissions to 350 ppm, etc. As long as nation states still exist, none of these are possible without some kind of political engagement with the big system. Creating a homestead in the hills and bonding with neighbors is fine, but if enough coal plants get built most life is snuffed out on the planet anyway.

I have a near total doomer mind set as well, but I could be wrong about some things and don't find it a very meaningful life to give up on the rest of the world completely because that means I have given up on the future completely. I do understand lifeboat ethics and think that hospice and triage are the primary health care issues of the future, but an attitude of near total isolation leads to bitterness and anger that turns people off. I struggle with these emotions myself and find it very difficult to be "positive" about much at all, so I think we have a lot in common.

You perhaps just find me naive and a Johnny-come-lately? I have heard that before and usually find that attitude from people who have never met me or had a real conversation with me. Don't believe what you read in the press, and understand that most people are complex and conflicted and given the ways of the world that is to be expected.

Higher gas prices now, means more alternatives in the near future. I don't think it's a bad thing at all. As for the roads and some form of automobile, we will most certainly need them if we wish to keep our civilization intact.

I agree with the prof -- a good start.

I think it is arrogance on anyone's part to think that he knows which alternatives, already known or to be imagined, will solve the problems

How is it any less arrogant to think that our problems are not solvable and our roads will be used mostly by horse and buggy at some date that you don't reveal to us?

Our best alternative today is electricity.

Between now and a few years when plug-ins are really rolling we have hybrids and conservation.

Whether the problem can be solved or not, I don't know. I don't think any of us knows which is why I object to government force being used to institute their or their constituents' view of which alternative should be attempted. We all have our views about what might work, just as you have expressed the view that electricity is the answer. If that is so, then you need do nothing but invest in that directly such as with solar panels or in companies that implement the electric solution you see as appropriate; the free market; all we need is government get out of the way and stop the plunder and control so we actually have some wealth left to direct into the solution we see. The arrogance comes in when individuals or groups insist that government fund theses "solutions" at the public expense thus depriving the public of those funds which they could have used to fund what they judge as more likely to work.

My conclusion about horses and buggies is based on the simple facts that after world wide peak, oil imports to the USA (imports equal 60% of what we use) will disappear over a period of probably a single decade, domestic production has been declining for decades and will continue to do so baring some miracle, and EROEI relentlessly declines at about 3.5% annually. The net result of this is that 10 to 15 years after peak, the USA could easily have only 25% of the oil available to use that it had at peak. So if you want a time frame, and rely on the likely date of 2010 as worldwide peak for oil from all sources, then somewhere between 2020 and 2025 we would be down to 25%, a loss of 75% of our oil energy in the USA. That is just 13 to 18 years away. Actually I probably spoke out of turn to say horse and buggy because there are probably not sufficient horses and buggies around to use many of the roads. Rather I should more accurately have described them as wide footpaths. This is my best estimate, but I allow for the possibility that we will soon enter a financial collapse of much greater magnitude than the great depression of the 1930's which would reduce oil consumption and accelerate the human suffering to an earlier date, thusly delaying the peak oil date a few years. But then in no case am I asking government to impose my view of the next few decades, since this is an expression of my thoughts and not a recommendation.

You seem to put your full faith in a 'free market'. The corporations, just like our government, will look at short term returns on their investments, rather than to long term benefit for our society, humanity, or our ecosystem.

in the car market the Prius outsold the Ford Explorer. take that doomers!

Take what? The Prius isn't going to save anything. At "best", if you can even call it that, it may allow our insane car-crazy infrastructure to continue a bit longer. And with America already sunk in debt in a downward spiral economy, increasingly not able to buy $25,000 cars, it's going to be a wee bit.

All of the green smoke car manufacturers have been blowing up our collective ass is simply astounding, though not as astounding as the amount we've bought into it. "Buy this car, and help the environment!" Any 3,000-lb. machine built using copius amounts of energy - the vast majority non-renewable - isn't "green", even if it is never ever used. The portrayals of these "green" cars is completely ridiculous. I have a brochure for a Prius that depicts green leaves coming out of the exhaust! "The more you drive it, the more you help the environment!" Bullshit. A more accurate description might be that you're hurting the environment less. That's it. You aren't "helping" shit, and I will even go so far as to say you are helping to avert real progress from being made. My favorite thus far was an SUV video ad showing a guy mountain biking, with the captions paraphrased as: "Driving this SUV will help preserve our environment. It also also give you the power to help enjoy it." I can't believe people are this stupid. I have a better idea: use a bike and skip the SUV altogether, and save what, 99% of your money? If this is the best we can do - pretending that hybrid cars are going to save us - we are doomed.

It's time to get over the obsession with cars. It should be obvious by now that it's been a terrible idea to design everything and anything around them here in the USA. Unfortunately, almost everyone seems obsessed with pouring absoltely all of our resources into keeping them going, all the while bitching about $x gas and unwilling to use any of their own energy to walk or bike around. The few of us who know better - those who can see past tomorrow - forsee what a terrible mistake that is going to be.

Personally, I can't wait until gas hits $5, and especially $10, that is - if our shitty economy will allow it. And before any of you jump all over me, consider this:

I own a Prius.

The difference is, I don't pretend that I'm going to save anything with it.

The corporations, just like our government, will look at short term returns on their investments...

(emphasis added) Didn't you just vitiate your own point?

At least corporations, however odious Marxists and other social parasites looking for handouts may consider them to be, have the virtue of being numerous. So there is some chance that between them they will try out numerous mostly stupid ideas, and maybe a few of those will work. There is only one government - it is a monopoly by definition - and it is spending somebody else's money, which makes it extra-careless, so it will at most try just a very few stupid ideas, and probably put most of the taxpayers' money into one grandly stupid but lusciously corrupt idea, for instance corn ethanol.

Now I don't know what our odds are, but how can the narrow monopoly approach possibly improve them?

Didn't you just vitiate your own point?

Nope, my point wasn't that government was better, but that the free market isn't the silver bullet that will save us. I don't think it has to be exclusively one or the other - probably a healthy mix of the two.


I am arguing for the free market because that consists of countless numbers of individuals and businesses, many of them small, acting in their own best interest without the intervention of government force. This corporate fascism that operates in part of the economy where government and special interests get together and rig things for the profit of the few at the expense of the many is not the free market. If you are arguing for government solutions, you are essentially arguing for more of this fascism. Who benefited from ethanol subsidies and how much of our remaining resources were diverted into this government control of private property (fascism) non solution?

So if you are telling me that the free market does not work and then point to all this rigging of the economy as proof, I think you are way off base. The privileged position enjoyed by the banking system, the medical and drug establishment, the war industry, and the "public" utilities to name a few are created and enforced by government with the effect of shifting wealth out of the hands of the many into the hands of the few. What needs to be done is to get the government out of the way, not get them more involved.

When you advocate government solutions to energy problems you are advocating either more of this fascism or outright socialism, both of which will only bring us to a bad end quicker. Again, I put forth the idea that the likely solution, if there is any, will come from individuals making their own preparations to deal with the future they individually see and from the brains of inventive people and free market businesses who might create alternatives that at least mitigate somewhat the damage that will result from the fast approaching end of the oil age.

Taking more of our wealth via an additional gas tax is only going to put more economic power in the hands of the government to be squandered on some creations of the listless minds of bureaucrats and politicians.

Your statements ring of blind religious faith. A series of small self centered actions are somehow going to change the fundamental paradigm that has organized our urban, suburban, exurban and rural forms ? Courtesy of GMs buyout of streetcar lines, the Interstate Highway system, etc.

If you truly believe this, then look at what real estate developers have built for half our population. They are out to make a buck, slap something together and turn over a new subdivision in 18 to 30 months and then walk away forever, leaving former farmland with an unsustainable mess.

If not required to by the central, socialized authority the streets would not even line up with the streets from the subdivision next to them. The streets and sewers would collapse in a decade or so,

There *IS* a solution ! But it can *ONLY* with collective, governmental effort. Look at France, a complete non-Oil Transportation system is largely in place (but still growing after 25+ years of modest level effort).

TGV lines radiating from Paris in all directions (more lines bypassing Paris under way) for intercity travel. Urban Rail in almost all cities and towns of 100,000 and more. And now rent-a-bikes (first half hour free) in many French cities. All collective effort,

Switzerland could not have survived and functioned after a 100% six year oil embargo with a series of small individual efforts.

Best Hopes for Collective Efforts,


John 15 --

I agree wholeheartedly. Not only is it arrogant to say we will be consigned to horse and buggy, it's deplorably unimaginative.

I also agree that electricity is the best fast track option. For one, it's more efficient than gas so even if all of the energy comes from fossil fuels at first it buys us time. It's also much more diverse. You can generate electricity from any conventional, alternative, or future power source so you can leverage a basket of energy source options. Finally, the distribution infrastructure (the grid) is already in place. So you don't have to spend trillions building it.

With emerging wireless transport of electricity, the 'fuel' becomes even more flexible -- even a possibility for certain aircraft, especially rotary wing aircraft, giving them essentially unlimited range.

There seems to be a backward romance arising in today's society. People don't like civilization, they think lots of people should die and leave the world to the survivors -- whom they envision to be themselves. What these people do not realize is that if civilization were to crash it would be far more brutal and painful than they imagine. It is not something we should ever even accept much less claim is inevitable.

"There seems to be a backward romance arising in today's society."

Yes. those who believe in a "simpler" life that didn't really exist. some detested the noisy and dirty railroads when they came out. I can imagine the telephone and telegraph made people long for the romance of mail.
if you lived along a busy canal I suppose you longed for the days when less people travelled on the water.

The aftermath of Y2K will require us to do things differently. We are going to have to live more locally, and more self-dependently.

So how long you going to beat that dead horse?

For as long as people advocate drastic measures to get us to a simpler kind of life we never had and might not even need. if you want to go back to a simpler kind of life go for it, leave us out of it. if events take us there, so be it, but if we force it we may have a huge mess on our hands. don't forget the law of unintended consequences.

Dude, I could not care less if anyone would want to have the simpler lifestyle, and I have no intention of forcing it on anyone. In fact, the LAST thing I want to see is a mad rush to the sticks by a bunch of yuppies and urban types looking for the simple life and in the process ruining mine by bringing their phony culture and excesses. Please, stay in your damn cities with your techno toys.

but if we force it we may have a huge mess on our hands

Don‘t worry, I‘m absolutely certain your view will be in the majority.

"And it is extreme insanity to think that politicians can command solutions; witness Katrina and the ethanol debacle."

A higher gas tax does not "command" solutions; it does provide an incentive for private actors to search for such solutions in the same way that future higher energy prices will, only in advance.

The ethanol analogy is on-point. The Katrina analogy is not, for two reasons. First, the current incompetence of FEMA does not reflect the state of the agency under prior administrations. It worked much better when staffed by actual professionals with knowledge of emergency response. Second, the disaster was greatly exacerbated by the inability of government to adequately invest in needed infrastructure; a state of affairs that should not be extended to roads and bridges, in my opinion. Even horses and buggies need to cross rivers.

The great hope for those of us around here who think about these things is that inflation (meaning purchase cost of land, labor and capital) stays high enough ahead of tax and bond revenues to prevent further investment in infrastructure "upgrades" which generally involve planning for more traffic and high population growth rates.

I watch the work of the economist who works for the Association of General Contractors.

Looks like the construction sector is having their own set of problems related to rising costs, which makes it difficult to maintain and expand infrastructure.

A snippet from:

AGC’s Construction Inflation Alert: Construction Costs: End of the Calm is Coming Soon
Oct., 2007

After years of minimal cost increases, prices of many construction materials skyrocketed from 2004 to mid-2006. Since mid-2006, some input prices have moderated, while others have fallen. But the cumulative increase in the producer price index (PPI) for construction inputs since December 2003 (28 percent through August 2007) remains more than double the 13 percent increase in the most common measure of overall inflation, the consumer price index (CPI) for all urban consumers. Labor costs, in contrast, have risen at similar rates for construction and for the private sector as a whole.

The cumulative difference matters because the estimates for many projects now being bid, especially public facilities, were prepared in 2003-2005 under the assumption that construction costs would escalate at the same rate as the CPI. That divergence explains why some projects are being canceled, delayed or redesigned.

In the next several months, the PPI for construction inputs, which covers items used up in construction such as diesel fuel as well as materials that go into a project, is expected to accelerate to a 3-5 percent annual rate of increase from the recent 1.5-3 percent range. By the end of 2008, and indefinitely thereafter, construction input costs are likely to be rising at 6-8 percent. Labor cost increases could top 5 percent by the end of 2007 and 5-6 percent in subsequent years.

This is not only hitting construction but the 787 as well.

But the company said its effort has been shadowed by difficulty getting the right parts from its suppliers on time as well as shortages of fasteners and other small parts that hold large sections of the plane together.

Some people are now speculating that the delays and cost overruns might cause the entire program to be scrapped before the first plane ships.

Anyone want to bet that as energy prices rise the 10 year ROI on the hybrid car gets worse rather than better? (e.g. it takes me 10 years to recoup the additional cost of a Honda or Toyota hybrid at current fuel prices)

I think that the event horizon on these proposals is always going to be just out of reach. Enticing enough to think we might get it, but never quite what you'd like it to be. This case of construction costs I think is a good illustration of that point. The Boeing argument is even better. Isn't this super-efficient airplane supposed to save the aviation world? Wouldn't it be funny if they did all their math with 3 year old input costs and find out that they are chasing the same receding horizon?

One thing that will definitely shift the payback outwards is lifetsyle changes that reduce car & gas usage. Get a job closer to home (or move closer to the job), carpool or take mass transit, consolidate or eliminate trips -- pretty soon the amount of gasoline you are using shrinks to such a small amount that the amount of savings from the higher mpg also shrinks, and it gets to be such a small amount that the payback period becomes unreal.

People might start doing their jobs from home over the internet. There are many jobs including mine, where I'm required to go into the office even though I could work from home just as easily.

I asked a friend of mine what the Energy input of a typical car was and his answer was that he -or the industry- had no idea, it wasn't on their radar yet...

Until we start getting good data on construction energy its going to be impossible to compare lifetime energy costs of vehicles, hybrid or not. The only thing that may show up is that once energy costs escalate efficiencies of construction and materials used should work there way through to end price.

-On the airplane front I read somewhere that the energy requirements needed for the Dreamliner carbon composite wings was quite large...


The last (and biggest) stone head on Easter Island was never finished.

A pattern we'll see repeated.

WNC - I hope we are both VERY wrong, but my Chemistry/Thermo/Physics background makes me think you are dead on.

We do very much need to set up a framework of higher gasoline taxes in the US for the following reasons:

* pay for (very basic) maintenance of whatever roads will be deemed vital - even if we all ride the bus the bus needs a road, and so do the trucks delivering whatever food we don't grow ourselves.

* raise money for rail, public transit, etc.

* discourage gas-guzzling by driving the price of fuel higher. This worked in Europe.

I fully expect that inflation will keep new road construction out of reach even if the gasoline tax is increased as much as is proposed in this study, or even double that.

What is going to happen to police, fire, and ambulance service as the roads start to crumble? We have all of these "no more cars" posts and that is a fine thing given peak oil, but the three things I just named are critical, mobile services. Police and fire can roll in ethanol powered 4x4 type vehicles, but ambulances? I'd rather have a smooth ride myself.

Ambulances? Ethanol powered helicopters?

On the other hand, congested gridlocked roads, long detours due to closed bridges, and playing pothole dodge-em might be just the formula to encourage more people to give mass transit a try.

The US economy cannot generate enough investment capital to cover the cost of Alan Drake's EOT scheme, AND a massive ramp up of renewables, AND more nukes, AND exploration and development of FF in every more difficult and expensive environments, AND coping with the impacts of global climate change along shorelines, etc. - AND have enough left to maintain and improve the existing, soon to become superfluous, highway system. We are going to have to do something that we do extremely badly in the US: make choices, and choose to do without something.

We've spent quite enough on the automobile already. Enough is enough.

You got it - now is the time for the long bet

Some poor consumer type will say "The problem is I am already paying too much, you wanna do what!". And that will carry the day.

Of course falling apart potholey roads are just what the 4WD pickup market needs. On the occasions when I drive the pickup, I needn't worry about such minor obstacles, but in the Prius its a different storey. Efficient vehicles need a decent road surface.

Interesting, more gasoline tax so that car drivers can pay for infrastructure damage caused by trucks:

Pavement damage is caused almost entirely by heavy trucks, not by passenger cars. One legal 80,000 lbs. GVW tractor-trailer truck does as much damage to road pavement as 9,600 cars. (Highway Research Board, NAS, 1962)

In the UK we have enjoyed high gasoline taxes for decades.

Approximately 60% of the price we pay at the pump is the equivalent of a federal tax.

We are paying $8.25 now for gasoline.

The high tax content acts as a buffer against sharply rising oil prices, it softens the blow to our transportation & trucking companies and encourages the use of smaller more economical vehicles.

In 2001, we were paying about $4.75 a gallon. The oil price may have nearly quadrupled since 2001, but the corresponding rise in the cost of gasoline has been just 175%.

I guess Europe would still function quite normally even with gasoline at $10 a gallon.

Well, you live in a country that has one of those governments where the top leaders only get there by working their way up and proving that they know their stuff. And then for the most part they defer to career civil servants that have also worked their way up by proving that they know their stuff. Thus, public policy decisions actually are made, and actually are more or less rational (except possibly for a very few which serve well for political grandstanding).

In the contrast, we in the US have a government where the top leaders get there by accepting bribes from big corporations to pay for the TV time to fool a plurality of those who actually vote (which is only a minority of the voting age public) to get into office, even though they don't know diddley-squat. And then they ignore the advice of civil servants and academic experts and instead do the bidding of their corporate paymasters. Of course, they are blocked at every turn by other politicians paid by other corporate paymasters with competing interests. Thus, few public policy decisions are ever actually made, and those few decisions are utterly irrational, and all are made on the basis of political grandstanding.

The grass is always greener on the other side. I became disillusioned of this fantasy of Europe being better by reading such books by former govt/industry insiders who saw how the system here in Europe is rotten to the core and controlled by inudstry who pays for everything, buys the politicians, writes all laws and the politicians "retire" to industry plush jobs which are also the breeding ground for future politicians. Don't fantasize about Europe being different. It is not. Government is an ideal like the church. Government has now been effectively and for the most part privatized in most countries I believe in almost all areas. What is not literally private is effectively controlled so that it benefits only the corporations that write the laws. In Poland the church served a role of bringing the two sides together after the collapse in 1989 for a roundtable discussion. Perhaps the ideal of government can fulfill this role after the PO collapse to mediate between the privatized government and the people who believe there really is a legitimate process of representation going on, which is not the case. In other words when the corporations are bankrupt and the politicians and bureaucracy of government still exists with nominal authority it will have to pick up the pieces and fulfill its planned role in society once again, to take repsonsibility back from the privat side, to which it demurred for so many decades. Norttern Rock is being nationalized and lots of banks in USA merging. This is just the beginning.

Renationalization of critical services in the case of private default(due to underinvestment/speculation to get rich quick/save and skimp on roads, schools, sewerage,electrical infrastructure, etc.) and sense of pride, community and patriotism in place of pure profit motive as reason for living will be the only way to get a country through a deep crisis we are all about to face due to credit crisis and natural resources scarcity.

Actually everything does not have to be nationalized or privatized. It is the attitude that matters. If nobody is a patriot then only money counts and no govt. secret was safe. We saw this in the 80s with US milityry insiders selling out for cash to the Soviets. If industry is patriotic oriented and works for the greater good then literal/legal nationalization(transfer of ownership) is not necessary. For example GM and Co. refuse to retool for tanks, aircraft consturction in 1942 as they don't see a profit in it. Guess how long they would have remained private.

I guess Europe would still function quite normally even with gasoline at $10 a gallon.

The US might function 'normally' with gas at $10 a gallon. We don't really function normally at $3 a gallon though.

Good point. Oil is priced in petrodollars. $100 oil is equivalent to Europeans are paying the equivalent of $57/barrel by my calculation since Bush took office. Eight years ago it took 80 cents to buy a Euro. Now it is about $1.47.

Scale the tax on gasoline in inverse proportion to the MPG of the vehicle. They can put RFID into grocery shopping carts and passports now, I see no reason (no good reason) why it can't be done with tank filler tubes and pump nozzles. Make it a nickel a gallon for every MPG under 50.

What's the point? You want to reduce how much is burned, so tax how much is burned.

Should someone who burns less petrol in a year in a SUV pay more than someone who burns a lot in a Prius? Why, so we can construct an elaborate system that taxes different things and we feel good about ourselves even when our actions mean we burn more petrol? It should be who burns, pays.

That's true, but the other options being discussed are even less fair. E.g., a fixed tax per mile driven, same for Prius as Hummer (which also requires big-brother surveillance of where every person drives). Or even more use of property taxes to fund transit.

Oh yes, thanks for reminding me. We need to stop this idiocy of hauling freight by truck instead of by rail or boat. Throwing ever more money into the highway system will do nothing to move freight traffic off of the trucks.

Some of the trucking stocks are getting hammered.

40 cents over 5 years is nothing, to make a difference in demand it would have to be at least 1$/gal now, probably more like 2$

Another too little, too late government move, just like the great CO2 reductions ... due a couple of administrations from now :-)

We were in charge until 2005, then we had a nice undulating plateau where things could still be moved around by our will, and now peak oil is in charge. We'll do as we're told or suffer the consequences - no blame shifting, no deferral, no spin - objective reality is coming to dinner.

Well, IMO there are a lot of good things about our country, but there are some real major issues. Massive shock therapy might still work, but I'm not holding my breath, no matter who wins the election they all are useless lightweight sold out mofo's. Ron Paul has the right ideas but the leadership potential of my ex wife's cat and Kucinich is the political version of Pee Wee Herman.
We need an American Putin.

Looking at the dog and pony show it sure looks like they are going to install the witch from hell by decree. Then it's war.

At what point does one say enough is enough and become an expat?
Either that or Todd's way.

Thank you mike for the truck induced highway damage comment. I wish I had a picture of Interstate 80 E of Cheyenne a few years back where the grooves of twin axle trucks abrogated travel in the right lane. Of that 18 cent tax only about 20% goes to mass transit.We need to electrify our transportation network and convert to light rail in corridors where it is feasible...NOW! We need to have a national inventory of roads and bridges to save and maintain and roads to either abandon or convert to gravel. Should we save Detroit auto jobs? No. Not as long as they give us 600 HP vettes and caddys that insult our sensibilities and mock our future. Let them build railroad cars and trolley cars. It's the least GM can do for destroying the trolley car system in the US 60 years ago. We will need mass transit networks that don't share track with the freight trains as well. So much track to lay, so little time.

It is indeed trucks that overwhelmingly damage typical road systems (paved roadways and bridges). In one study (, the ratio is:
damage from one 80,000lb truck == the damage from 9,600 cars

I don't have figures handy, but the ratio for certain road systems can be even higher. A concrete road may conceivably be able to handle a million cars with barely perceivable damage. But put trucks on it and the cracked concrete will need regular repair.

Move the freight to rail and the cost of maintaining our roads plummets.

Best Of The Oil Drum Index

This sounds like marketing ammo to justify drilling in ANWR and off the coasts.

How about a gasoline taxes to get our economy and military off of gasoline?

While we need investment in infrastructure, that should investment should not go in roads or any attempt to "improve" our highway system. It makes no sense to work towards a future that is just more of the same; effort should be directed to that infrastructure which will encourage transportation by means other than than the automobile. We need infrastructure which makes it possible to have largely car free cities. We don't need infrastructure which just perpetuates the failed and destructive suburban paradigm. Reduce traffic deaths by having less traffic, not wider highways that permit fast speeds which increase demand for petroleum use.

Seems fair. In Roman times there were toll taxes for those who used the roads. The people with the heavier vehicles use the most fuel and they might pay more for the roads. Those with light hybrids who have short commutes did little damage to the road and might pay less for the roads.

It needs to be understood that there are actually TWO motor fuel taxes, a federal tax and a state tax. The state taxes differ from a low of $0.264/gal (for gasoline) in Alaska to a high of $0.695/gal (diesel) in California.

The proposal is to raise the FEDERAL tax. The feds gather in this tax from around the country, then distribute it. Some of the distribution is by formula, but a lot is through the political process. Remember "earmarks"? Remember "pork barrel politics"? Well, you are looking at the number one revenue source for this stuff right here. It is this pork barrel that they are proposing to enlarge substantially.

A very small sliver of this pie goes to urban mass transit and to Amtrak; while we want to see more money go to those, and while this proposal does include that, if there are to be cuts during the legislative process these are exactly what are most likely to be targeted first. The vast majority of the money presently goes to the Interstate highway system; this pattern is not likely to change if an increase is enacted. More money to the Interstate system is exactly what we DON'T need right now. It is absolutely the worst priority.

There are indeed some Interstate bridges, etc., that do need repairs. The vast majority of traffic that would be at risk in these cases, and the vast majority of traffic that would benefit, is LOCAL traffic. Since the states do have their own source of fuel tax revenues, they could raise those tax rates themselves to pay for this to the extent that it really needs to be done.

While a few repairs to the Interstate system do need to be made, though, the real priority is to maintain the network of LOCAL roads, and to develop LOCAL mass transit systems, and to develop short-haul city-to-city passenger rail service (which often involves an entirely INTRASTATE route). All of this can and should be done with state fuel tax revenues. Why send those tax dollars to Washington instead, and then hope that somehow you'll get most of them back (the feds will keep their cut to cover the overhead costs of a bloated bureaucracy), and just maybe be allowed to use them for what is needed rather than what grandstanding congressman or senator wants?

There is a lot of work that needs to be done with our transport infrastructure, but almost all of that work needs to be at the state and local level. We probably DO need an increase in the motor fuel tax, but it is the STATE motor fuel tax rate that needs to be raised, not the federal. If anything, I would like to see the federal tax lowered, or even eliminated altogether, which would make more room for each state to do what it needs to do.