From an editorial Monday in the Washington Post:
President Barack Obama wants to raise gasoline prices. It is about time.
In his new budget proposal, Mr. Obama is proposing a $10-per-barrel fee on oil, which would translate into about 24 cents per gallon of refined gasoline. He would spend the proceeds on the Highway Trust Fund and on “green” transportation: rapid bus lines, electric-car charging stations, big rail projects and so forth.
The case for taxing crude oil or refined gasoline in order to pay for transportation infrastructure begins with fairness: Those who use the roads should help pay for them. But even if the money were used for something else entirely – debt reduction, energy research, lowering other taxes, rebating directly back to Americans – such a tax still would be worthwhile. At $10 a barrel, much of the social harm that burning oil does by contributing to climate change would be built into its price.
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In fact, the proposal would be better if the fee were higher: Resources for the Future’s Alan J. Krupnick says that it should be $15 to fully account for climate harms. And Congress should not stop with oil; every fuel should be taxed commensurate with the harm it does to the climate.