Lowest Gasoline Taxes Since the Beginning of the Automobile

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One of the best ways to promote clean transportation is to discourage dirty transportation. But despite decades of Presidents saying they will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels (quotes here; video here), nothing of the sort has happened and one of the biggest culprits of pollution, the automobile, has probably gotten more help than anything else.

People may complain about the price of gas going up because the raw number is going up, but — adjusted for inflation — gasoline taxes are at their lowest in decades.

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gas tax graph

USA Today, which has been surprising me lately with its transportation articles, has a pretty good recent article analyzing the drop in gasoline taxes over the years.

Gasoline taxes are half what they were in 1975, when adjusted for inflation, they found.

Additionally, the value of the tax isn’t what it used to be due to better automobile efficiency, meaning there is less funding coming in for improving transportation infrastructure around the nation.

“Drivers are on track to spend $55.7 billion on federal, state and local gas taxes in 2010’s first quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That’s down from $68.5 billion in 2000 after adjusting for inflation — even though Americans drive 7% more miles annually.”

Nonetheless, despite the very long-term drop in such taxes and the lack of funding for transportation projects everywhere, the public doesn’t support raising gas taxes yet.

“Only 23% support a 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax hike, according to a June survey by the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University.”

How can we encourage more sustainable modes of transportation and even more sustainable automobiles without addressing this critical transportation issue? Our solutions are working against our refusal to implement other solutions.

Photo Credit: B Tal via flickr


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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