Does anyone else feel the present precipitous drop in energy costs in these United States is a catastrophe?
Does anyone else feel the US Gov is once again missing the opportunity of a lifetime to fix at least 2 problems with one move?
Does anyone else feel that with energy prices dropping, more consumers, corporate and private, will gorge on energy again?
How do we prevent that? How do we reduce the deficit? How do we keep the public thinking about conservation in a time of gluttony?
I think it is time for the US to adapt an energy tax, similar to any other vice tax. They tax liquor, cigarettes, and gambling, why not energy? An energy tax could be either a carbon tax or a per unit tax on the consumption of energy. It is needed so consumers do not get the idea that energy is once again cheap and limitless.
Pick a date in the past three years to 'normalize' energy prices to and make the tax adjust semiannually to make the price paid equal that number. Any differential between consumer price and fair market price goes to the Government. When the fair market price equals the normalized price the tax expires. Fair market price is set by futures trading globally. Normalized consumer price equals inflation adjusted energy prices from 2013. People don't get a shock because they have been paying those prices and surviving fine doing it. This approach would guarantee the tax does expire when energy costs rebound, and consumers aren't stuck with stuff they cannot use when the energy prices rebound. It also stabilizes energy cost for everyone.
We could use funds from the energy tax to fix the millions of bridges we have ready to fall down or a lot of other stimulus type adventures, including incentives for conservation and R&D on renewables.
It is government negligence for the price of fuel to continue to drop to the point where consumers think it is OK to do dumb things with energy. Heat the driveway, buy a Hummer, put a heated outdoor pool in your lakeside home, etc. Energy is cheap!! Hooray!.
It is time for an adult to take the truckload of chocolate away from the 5 year olds.
This is a great way of saying it! Well done. You know the vast majority of us here on HEP agree with you - we're the choir. Your headline is such a great attention getter, a hook. I recommend you send this letter to your local and not-so-local newspapers' letter-to-the-editor sections. They will very likely publish it. And THAT will have an impact that will ripple through the pond.
“stuck with stuff they cannot use when the energy prices rebound” This is the peril of energy addiction. We are building our entire lives on the assumption that some commodity will remain at the same price level. It is more about risks than savings and it looks like it is not an issue that can be handled at the individual level. I am not a pro-government-intervention person but in this specific case, I think it is needed. Taxing lavish use of energy and using the ravenue for rebates to encourage efficient stuff is a good idea.
Someone told me Naomi Klein's new book has a passage about how high energy prices drive extreme fossil fuel extraction, and reward it. In North America, much of this extreme extraction is in or near Native Americans' lands. So low prices could paradoxically buy some time for these peoples and others to question the environmental cost of extreme extraction approaches. I have not read the book yet but heard this.
Yes, very good, attention getting headline!
But the good news is that lower fuel prices:
will free up more $$ for the lower and middle class to spend on important things and help the economy
will create a disincentive for the Keystone Pipeline and Hydrofracting
it might free up enough money for more homeowners to invest in energy efficiency
and the bad news is:
it will incite the Republican majority, who already do not believe in Global Warming and believe that there should be less government intervention
As for "Heat the driveway, buy a Hummer, put a heated outdoor pool in your lakeside home, etc. Energy is cheap!! Hooray!" I know many second homeowners in this resort town that have the huge outdoor hot tub, the heated walkways, the house never below 65 deg., even if nobody is there for months. They may complain about the cost of fuel but are not interested in changing anything.
How about simply getting the government out of the energy business altogether? End ALL energy subsidies. Currently we pay a large portion of the real energy cost in our income tax bill (aka government subsidies and war). Let energy prices go to their natural levels and let the ENTIRE cost be reflected in utility bills.