Brother Can You Spare A Gallon?

“Economists predict that reducing our energy use by more than 20% will require price increases for most types of energy.” These, of course, are the same industry economists who predicted that the 1970 Clean Air Act would wreck the economy — we now know that what really hurt the economy was our dependence on foreign oil.

Converting the global energy market from fossil fuels to renewables will no doubt cause some economic dislocation during the switch — just as the switch from whale oil to petroleum-based lubricants impacted the machine age 100 years ago — but that doesn’t mean it will harm the economy. More than 2,500 economists, including eight Nobel laureates, recently signed a statement declaring, “Sound economic analysis shows there are policy options that would slow climate change without harming American living standards, and these measures may in fact improve U.S. productivity in the longer run.” For details on the “Economics of Climate Change,” visit Redefining Progress.

As for the price of gasoline, the U.S. continues to guzzle some of the cheapest gas in the world, paying on average less than one-third the price in European and other developed nations; in fact, we pay 2 to 5 times less than consumers in any country outside North America. If our various government subsidies for the fossil fuel industry are removed, the price of gas will rise as the true costs of the product are revealed, and the weak incentive to make cars more fuel-efficient will become much stronger. With more efficient cars, we’d spend about the same amount of money getting where we’re going — we’d just use less gas to do it. And you can guess how an oil company might feel about that.