Letter: Gas Prices

Letter to the Editor

The week before California’s 12 cent increased gas tax took effect on Nov. 1, 2017, the average price of regular gasoline retailed in California for $3.066. This tax, the first gas tax increase in 23 years, increased that price by 3.9 percent. Since that time, the cost of California’s regular gasoline has increased to $3.618 per gallon, an increase of 18 percent. In other words, the increased cost of gas—attributable to federal energy policies (e.g., Iran nuclear deal, rollback in car gas mileage standards, appliance efficiency standards, renewable energy policies, etc.)—is responsible for 78 percent of the increase in the regular retail gasoline prices in California. The proceeds of the California gas tax go to improve California roads, bridges and traffic congestion. The proceeds from the increased price of regular gasoline attributable to federal energy policies disproportionately benefit Russia, Saudi Arabia and Houston. Repeal of the 12 cent California gas tax would reduce the price of California gas by 3.3 percent, to $3.498, leaving 96 percent of the price unchanged, but would leave the state unable to address the backlog of road infrastructure improvements that require $130 billion to repair or replace. California voters are right to be angry about the rise in the cost of gasoline but they should focus their gas tax ire on federal energy policies and not use it to shoot themselves in the foot by repealing a source of badly needed funds to restore California’s roads and bridges to safe driving conditions and to improve California’s worsening traffic congestion.

William McCarthy