Charles Krauthammer's Nov. 11 op-ed column, "Pump Some Seriousness Into Energy Policy," suggested adopting a tax to set the floor price of gasoline at $3 a gallon.

Unfortunately, Congress is unlikely to act on this idea.

A more achievable alternative would be to impose a much smaller tax on gasoline and use the proceeds to subsidize a transition to hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles. A five-cent gasoline tax would raise more than $7 billion annually, enough to subsidize every new American-made car by more than $400. Extending the tax to diesel fuel would increase the subsidy to $600.

In return, manufacturers could, for example, agree to make a transition to hybrids, cars that use clean diesel fuel or other cars capable of getting upward of 50 miles per gallon within five years. Consumers then would reap substantial savings as their fuel consumption dropped. Additional benefits would be a commensurate drop in oil imports, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.


Senior Attorney

Center for International Environmental Law


The gasoline tax proposed by Charles Krauthammer makes no economic sense. By adding a tax to the market price of gas to bring the cost to $3 a gallon at the pump, this proposal would create a price floor.

Such a floor would mean no open market to determine price, so finding the market price of gas and the amount of tax would be difficult to impossible. And as long as gas stayed under $3 a gallon, retailers would have no incentive to compete, because lowering their pump prices would only create more tax revenue for the government.