Where does smart energy policy begin? With $4 a gallon gas. Where does it go? Never below $4 a gallon.
That's right. Anytime world oil prices drop enough for gasoline to cost less than $4 a gallon, the United States should impose a new tax to keep the gasoline price at least that high.
That's the idea New York Times editorial columnist Thomas Friedman argues for today.
"The message going forward to every car buyer and carmaker would be this: The price of gasoline is never going back down," he writes. "Therefore, if you buy a big gas guzzler today, you are locking yourself into perpetually high gasoline bills. You are buying a pig that will eat you out of house and home. At the same time, if you, a manufacturer, continue building fleets of nonhybrid gas guzzlers, you are condemning yourself, your employees and shareholders to oblivion."
His larger point is that politicians notably our president and presidential candidates are handing us sugar-coated garbage, when they should be encouraging efficiency and getting us ready to make fuel from sugar, garbage and anything else that might provide a homegrown low-carbon alternative to gasoline.
Solving the problem of global warming won't come without pain and some straight talk. Friedman certainly has that right.
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