Opinion: Raise the Gas Tax

By Erik Assadourian

I was shocked and outraged to read that Governor Lamont would want to raise the gas tax by 5 cents by 2023 (2/18). Not because that’s too much, but because it is far too low.

As the frightful weather across the US reminds us, climate change, aka global weirding, is here. Bayous in Louisiana are iced over, millions are snowed in in Texas, even the Middle East has snow. Meanwhile the poles are melting more quickly every year, as new research finds.

And fossil fuels are the number one contributor. Thus, why would a tiny increase in gas taxes seem excessive? Frankly it is far too timid—especially considering the low price of gas right now (lower than 2005 and that’s not even adjusting for inflation). If anything Lamont should propose a much higher increase—both to pay for roads and transportation (including increasing and better subsidizing public transit and bike lanes to support both low-income residents and to encourage the shift away from the car) and of course to disincentivize driving and incentivize people buying more fuel efficient cars.

Keep in mind that gas prices across Europe reach up to $7.62 per gallon—a key reason why Europeans own fewer and smaller cars, drive less, and have excellent bus and train systems. While we can’t get there overnight, why not fight for a $1 gas tax increase over the next 5 years and ensure a floor price of $3.50 (phased in) so that consumers no longer think of gas as a dirt-cheap commodity? Eventually by 2030, gas should cost at least $5 a gallon and keep increasing beyond there. Ignore the vitriol. It is essential to our survival that we make gas more expensive as quickly as politically possible. Fighting for 5 cents over 2 years cedes the battle before it’s even fought.

Erik Assadourian

Middletown, CT