The General Accounting Office (GAO) was requested to assess policy options for addressing the external costs of gasoline consumption. To do this, GAO identified six major policy options and evaluated whether they addressed several relevant objectives, including economic growth, environmental quality, equity, petroleum conservation, visibility of costs, energy security, traffic congestion, competitiveness, and administrative feasibility. Briefly, GAO found the following: The six options reviewed could all reduce the nation's dependence on oil. In addition, all of these options could reduce air pollution resulting from gasoline consumption. However, no option would satisfy all of the policy objectives considered, although two options--a higher gasoline tax and a tailpipe emissions tax--would address more objectives than others. On the other hand, both of these taxes could lead to slower economic growth and place a disproportionate financial burden on low-income and rural populations. Similarly, while a fee-rebate program could increase consumer demand for fuel-efficient new vehicles, this option would not reduce gasoline consumption and air pollution from older vehicles. While all policy options would involve trade-offs in meeting various goals, they could be modified or combined to better address the external costs of gasoline consumption and other policy objectives. For example, revenues from a higher gasoline tax or a tailpipe emissions tax could be used to reduce other taxes, such as taxes on income, and possibly offset negative impacts on economic growth and low-income and rural groups. Similarly, a fee-rebate program could be combined with an old-vehicle scrappage program to improve fuel efficiency and reduce air pollution from both new and old vehicles.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Environment, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, House of Representatives.
  • Corporate Authors:

    U.S. General Accounting Office

    441 G Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20548
  • Publication Date: 1992-9


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 51 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00625250
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO/RCED-92-260
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 30 1993 12:00AM