“If we don’t do anything, we are going to be importing 75 percent of our oil and I promise you, we are going to be paying $200 to $300 a barrel for it” in 10 years.

 T. Boone Pickens, CEO investment management firm

Senator Richard Lugar’s comments on a gasoline tax (Wash. Post op-ed 2/1/09, quotes)

“One of the simplest and most effective means available for strengthening U.S. national security is to dramatically reduce our oil dependence. A gas tax that returns money to Americans would take us a long way toward that goal…”

“A gasoline tax is transparent, easy to administer and targeted at the one sector that burns most of our oil. We know it would cut imports. When gasoline prices topped $4 a gallon last year, Americans chose to use less, leading to a major drop in gasoline consumption. The gains from accurately priced gasoline would grow as Americans demanded more fuel-efficient vehicles, chose non-petroleum alternatives to power them and found public transit options that work. Pricing gasoline to reflect its true cost to the nation would help spur a vast market in which oil alternatives such as advanced biofuels would become competitive and innovation would flourish…

“Adjusting Americans’ tax burden to put more spending power into their own hands makes sense when household budgets are squeezed. A revenue-neutral oil security tax would take every penny collected at the pump and put it right back into the pockets of consumers. Options for doing so include cutting the payroll tax, which disproportionately affects the lowest-paid employees, so workers would see extra money every payday. Alternatively, the government could regularly send a check to everyone over 18.”

[Editor’s note: We favor a higher gasoline tax.  We have doubts about advanced biofuels; time will tell.]