Oil Tax

Oil is at $60 per barrel, predicted to go to $70. At $60 someone is getting $40 more per barrel than they were at $20. At $70 someone will be getting $10 more per barrel than now.
Suppose we today imposed a $10 per barrel tax on imported oil? Then WE would be getting that $10. Suppose we used the money to invest in alternative energy? (Or to secure our ports? Sort of the opposite of what some of that $10 WILL be used for…)
Suppose WE had imposed a tax on imported oil back when it was at $20 and invested in energy efficiency – things like retrofitting buildings and fuel economy – or investment in alternative energy sources?
Republicans prefer eating the seed corn.

12 thoughts on “Oil Tax

  1. Why imported oil? To make the bogus arguments for domestic drilling frauds stronger? To enrich our little Houston pals? I didn’t know YOU had little Houston pals, Dave?
    How about a tax at the pump? A fucking HUGE one. As big as a Ford Fucking Explorer. That big. Take the tax revenues and piss them away. The important effect of such a tax is to discourage the horrific “American lifestyle”.
    Not using any fuel is BY FAR the most efficient replacement for fossil fuel. BY FAR. This isn’t politics, it’s physics.

  2. Why are oil prices so high? I don’t want to hear the usual crap explanations. A couple of days ago wasn’t Exon making a profit of a billion bucks a week? Or was it more than that?
    Last night I watched a geology show, not on PBS but on the CUNY channel, about new theories and methods of exploration for oil and minerals. Did you know that oil’s been discovered in the Sudan and parts of Africa are probably loaded with extensive oil fields? That there are many other unexplored areas where it would probably be discovered? I think we don’t know what in Hell’s going on about anything, and we react as though we do. Knowledge is power, and it seems as though all knowledge has become secret. Unless you manage to stumble across it somehow.
    Of course we should use as little oil as possible, and as Dave says, tax it heavily, but I’m beginning to wonder if the main reason shouldn’t be air pollution.

  3. I’m no expert, but I’ve read David Goodstein’s excellent “Out of Gas”. There is, it turns out, a pattern to the discovery and extraction of oil. Oil “production”, when viewed in any local area (like the US), roughly follows a simple curve. The US production curve topped out in the early 1970s and then declined. The current curve for the entire world looks very like the US curve near its peak.
    The Hubbert peak argument (accepted by Goodstein, a brilliant physicist) is that we will be in trouble starting at the point when oil production peaks, not when it runs out completely (which it will never do, of course, do to exponentially escalating prices). This is quite obviously true if one considers that world demand is increasing rapidly. If production levels out, or declines even a bit, the price effects and economic impacts will be severe to catastrophic. Those who subscribe to the market religion believe that the market will, via the price mechansim, encourage alternatives and everything will be just fine. This is of course magical thinking — we are dealing with realities of physics here, not fantasies of economics.
    The math is compelling. Even if HUGE new oil reserves are added to the world total, they will have negligible impact on the problem. It will be deferred in its onset by MONTHS, not years or decades.
    Yes, pollution due to fossil fuel burning is the most serious problem. Ultimately, who cares how many homo sapiens die in an economic catastrophe of their own making compared to a runaway climate change on the planet so enormous that almost all species are made extinct? (I guess those tube worms that live next to zillion-degree gas vents at the bottom of the ocean will thank us for bequeathing them our global dominion. Thanks, guys!)

  4. Richard: that seems awfully simplistic for a number of reasons, not least among which is that automotive consumption is towards the bottom of the percentage usage table for US imported and domestic oil. Agriculture (fertilizer mostly, but also petrol for equipment) is #1, Energy is #2.
    To not use any fuel would result in a rapid mass-casualty catastrophe of human life that far dwarfs the residual long-term damage of pollution. I know in the end the result is human extinction in both cases but the answer has to be moderation and creation of new sources of fuel. Period. There is no solution other than that. You cannot fix this problem by “[discouraging] the horrific ‘American lifestyle’.”

  5. Jaimie: Fertilizer is not the primary use for petroleum in the United States. Most farm equipment is diesel fueled, and roughly half of US Petroleum usage goes to the production of “finished motor gasoline”. Source, via your tax dollars at work:

    I would say that Richard’s tax proposal is flawed, primarily because such tax would be highly regressive in impact. I’d also disagree with his assessment of the relative seriousness of the polution problem to the simple issue of depletion. Human impacts on earth are already likely to cause an extinction event to rival the Permian, and global climate change will pale in impact compared to the consequences of the oil wars going nuclear. Global warming should “only” wipe out the human race. =)

    If we can get a decent biodiesel production that does not rely on the use of naturally occuring petroleum, and if that production can match demand, it will allow for the solution of the global warming carbon problem. (Biodiesel only puts carbon into the atmosphere that was taken out in the first place.) However, I believe the Hubbert peak problem is real, and is dire. And new energy and fuel sources will not be easy to come by or to switch to. Get ready for a rough ride, folks; the next decade may make the Great Depression look like “happy days are here again.”

  6. I’ve seen speculation that billions in Saudi oil dollars is poured back into the US economy through various channels. Not too surprising that the Bushies are unconcerned about oil’s price – I think they are profiting a great deal from it.
    They have no interest in solving our problems – they are just getting rich from them.

  7. I just spoted your blog on the Daou Report. I think any discussion of energy/oil issues is great. I am convinced that this will be the single most important issue of the 21st centtury. Getting the America to take even baby steps towards energy self efficency, sustainability, and conservation is a good thing. The economy, enviroment, and national security are tied to oil. We should of tackled this a long long time ago…..
    This is another point where the Republicans that are truly are more concerned about America’s future than their own party politics need to get off the Bush boat ,stop drinking the koolaid, and deal with reality for a change.
    Cheveron is making world record breaking profits. Some of that capital has to be directed by force into programs and tech that will protect Americans from the comming energy crisis.

  8. I like the broad idea, but as always, the devil’s in the details. Too bad it’s political suicide to even think such a thing.

  9. As a veteran of the 1970’s gas shortage, I get angry at the fact that our nation chose not to work towards alternative fuel sources with any urgency. We allowed big petroleum companies to seduce us with their propaganda about the availablitiy of American oil rather than look other places for other types of energy. Now we have an economy and lifestyle that is dependent on
    cheap fossil fuels. Urban sprawl, on-time delivery, and huge highway construction projects keep us fearfully linked to the oil derricks.
    Penny wise and pound foolish was what my granny said. In my own experience, family land was surveyed three times for oil. Yes, the geologists found a small quantity but the expense of the repeated surveys is money that could have been used for research into other fuel sources. I am glad that the discussion about what to do with our fuel futures keeps coming up. I hope our national resolve turns to finding solutions before it is too late. Keep bringing up ideas!

  10. In this political climate which ignores global warming any attempt to put together an alt fuel inferstructure will be laughed at. It seems we’re on our way to hitting a wall, and fast like it or not. Can you imagine if Bush actually gets presidential terms to be extended? Have any spare mules?

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