SOLUTIONS: Curbing U.S. dependence on foreign oil

A rational energy policy will affect everybody, and that policy needs to start today. So along with conservation and efficiency, we need to do the following:

• Increase the tax on gasoline so people will purchase fuel-efficient vehicles (40 mpg by 2020, a standard that Europe and Japan already meet today). A federal tax of 50 cents per gallon should be added to today’s taxes, and the variable tax should be set to place a price floor for gasoline at $4 per gallon during periods of cheaper oil.

The 50-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline would about pay for Oil War II and Afghanistan.

• The national speed limit should be 65 mph, and for those highways that now have a 65 mph limit, it should be reduced to 60 mph so that everyone bears part of the burden.

This means it will take more time for trips, especially in the West, where there are 75 mph speed limits — and even an 80 mph speed limit on a stretch of highway in West Texas.

• When oil reaches $150 per barrel, open up offshore areas (East and West coasts) for drilling for oil and gas, and when oil reaches $200 per barrel, open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This should only be considered after vehicle fuel efficiency achieves 40 mpg and the minimum price for the cost of gasoline is $4 per gallon.

Vaughn Nelson is the director of the Alternative Energy Institute at West Texas A&M University. Mr. Nelson has taught an online course about solar and wind energy for a number of years, and he is the author of “Wind Energy, Renewable Energy and the Environment.”

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