>Guzzling Gas in the Golden State
>The California Oil Independence League (COIL) was founded by Stan
>Shore, retired founder of ACC-U-TUNE & BRAKE, to do one thing --
>cut the amount of gasoline burned in California.
>Adjusted for inflation, gas is about the same price it was in the
>fifties. But now we understand the downside of fossil fuel abuse:
>global warming, trade deficits, dependence on unstable countries,
>jobs lost, terrorism, pollution, congestion, environmental degradation.
>The COIL initiative will increase the state gas tax and return every
>dime of that tax back to Californians as income tax refunds.
>Federal mileage standards have not worked. Since CAFE standards
>began, our oil consumption is up 25%, oil imports up 30%, and our
>dependence on foreign oil has now hit 65%. These numbers will
>continue to climb since population and economic growth will put more
>pressure on gas consumption than our switch to hybrid technology can
>offset in the face of cheap gas. Washington is, as always, dedicated
>to keeping gas prices as low as their influence can manage. Somebody
>has to lead America in another direction. As the second largest gas
>consumer on earth, California seems like the appropriate leader.
>Stan will discuss the COIL initiative, what it will do, and where
>California is headed without it.
Stan Shore began his talk by breaking down what our oil imports mean in a number of ways. First he quoted Representative Bob Beauprez of Colorado, who said the "United States loses 12,389 jobs for every $1 billion spent on imported oil." That boils down to 1.7 million jobs at the current rate of imports. By far the largest use of the stuff is transportation, where use has been growing steadily for many years.
Then he pointed out that if California's gasoline usage was broken out separately, we would be the second largest gasoline consuming nation on the planet. In 2002 California refineries imported $6 Billion worth of crude oil. In 2004 California refineries are expected to import 220 million barrels of oil, costing $7.7 Billion, or the loss of 95,395 jobs. Stan had many well done graphs that brought home the point that the problem is just going to get worse the longer we ignore it.
Stan's solution to the problem is a revenue neutral gasoline tax, starting at a quarter a gallon and ramping up over four years to $1/gallon, to be offset by a $600/year reduction in per capita income tax rates. That way people will have an incentive to cut fuel consumption that makes sense in their personal or family budgets. The tax would only take effect two year after passing to give people time to make their infrastructure more fuel efficient. California Oil Independence League (COIL) is planning to do this as a ballot initiative because the State Legislature is not expected to pass such a bold program, although the voters might if they can be convinced that it is revenue neutral.
Currently COIL is seeing who wants to help make the project happen. They expect to be crafting the legislation and gathering signatures in time for one of the 2006 ballots.
During Q&A a number of points got discussed:
Aviation fuel is taxed as gasoline in California. A lot of air carriers buy as little as they can in this State for that reason.
The revenue neutral figure for $600 per year assumes an average driver going 15,000 miles per year in a car that gets 25 MPG. People that drive less and/or have more efficient cars would come out ahead.
In 2002, 30% of California's oil came from foreign sources, the largest being Iraq, followed by Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Mexico, and many others.
At the end of the meeting Stan handed out information packets with a lot of useful information that supplemented his talk. If you would like additional information or to help with the COIL effort, contact oilindependence (at) ihot (dot) com.