President Obama has a fantastic idea that unfortunately may not go anywhere, thanks to Republican hard-ons for mass-oil consumption. He wants to put a tax on oil and fund a $300+ billion investment in mass transit, self-driving cars and high-speed rail, among other transportation aiding in the reduction of carbon emissions.
In Obama’s last State of the Union address he vowed to “change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.” It was only a matter of days before Obama proved to be true to his word, moving forward on the coal front of his vow by showcasing his blueprint for revamping the methods for how coal mine leases on federal land are granted. Now, only a month later, President Obama is doing the same regarding oil.
According to White House aides, next week’s budget proposal for the final year of Obama’s administration includes provisions for a new oil tax. Politico states:
The president will propose more than $300 billion worth of investments over the next decade in mass transit, high-speed rail, self-driving cars, and other transportation approaches designed to reduce carbon emissions and congestion. To pay for it all, Obama will call for a $10 ‘fee’ on every barrel of oil, a surcharge that would be paid by oil companies but would presumably be passed along to consumers…The fee could add as much as 25 cents a gallon to the cost of gasoline.
While no one gets excited over the cost of gas jumping up another 25 cents per gallon, it’s no secret that America desperately needs to reinvest itself into mass transit and high-speed rails. Riding Amtrak compared to Eurail is like paying top dollar to travel America on a prison bus. The good such an investment could do for tourism and the environment is hard to snivel at, especially while gas is currently so cheap. As it stands now, Americans could weather a hike of 25 cents and still feel happy that gas is cheaper than it was only a few years ago, when prices around the nation were nearing $5 a gallon.
But naturally, leave it to Republicans to cling to their oil dependence like Linus to his blanket. Conservative Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe said Obama’s proposal doesn’t stand a chance in hell of making it through Congress. Known for his adamant stance against climate change, the chair to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee issued a statement, saying:
I’m unsure why the president bothers to continue to send a budget to Congress. His proposals are not serious, and this is another one which is dead on arrival.
So far, neither Bernie Sanders nor Hillary Clinton have commented on Obama’s proposal. It remains to be seen whether the president’s vision will gain any traction in Congress, but one thing is for certain: America needs to invest in transportation that leaves a much smaller impact on the environment as soon as possible. It’s time we put our shoulders behind that wheel full steam.
Featured image by Loco Steve via Flickr.