Each year the United States consumes a quarter of the world's crude oil output, mostly to propel some 200 million cars and trucks and to sustain the extensive infrastructure they require. For the past 20 years, the primary goal of American energy policy has been to reduce the nation's reliance on oil, but, according to the authors, policymakers have been going about it inefficiently in the transportation sector. They say the United States, rather than continuing to administer mileage mandates on motor vehicles, should raise the price of motor fuel to moderate consumption. This view has consistently met with broad-based congressional and public opposition. Although fuel taxes are a common and effective method of conserving energy in other industrialized nations, U.S. policy has traditionally relied on regulation rather than on taxation to promote energy efficiency in automotive transportation. This book examines both the political causes and the economic effects of this idiosyncratic policy preference. The authors find that an additional excise of 25 cents a gallon over the past nine years would have conserved at least as much oil as the existing policy of imposing gas mileage requirements for new passenger vehicles. And such a tax, they contend, would not be as detrimental to the economy as opponents fear, nor as regressive as they claim. The authors examine the development of motor-fuel excises in Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and Canada, explaining the historical and political factors that have led to different national policy orientations. Turning their attention back to the United States, the authors show how regulatory measures have fallen short of their goal and why political barriers to bolder taxation of gasoline remain formidable. They conclude by offering suggestions for new directions in U.S. policy at the federal, state, and local levels.


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 196 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00730197
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 0815760922
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 10 1997 12:00AM