Beware any quick fix offered on gas prices

May 04, 2006

Now that the price of gasoline is getting close to $3 per gallon, various candidates have come forward with plans to ease that pain at the pump.

If there is anything we have learned from dealing with previous energy crises, it is that quick fixes don't help for very long. The long-term approach, which has been delayed far too long, is what this nation and the Tri-State area needs.

The proposal to drop the collection of state and local gasoline taxes strikes us as short-sighted. If prices don't drop after summer, during which some candidates are proposing that a gas tax suspension take place, government would have less money to promote energy-saving alternatives, such as mass transit.

Better strategies that would yield more immediate results include:

  • Allowing more employees to telecommute on certain days. If there are fewer vehicles on the road, that will cut demand.

  • Making it government policy to purchase hybrid vehicles for people such as inspectors, who do a lot of driving for their jobs.

  • Provide some incentives for those who carpool, including premium parking at their offices and allowing them to leave earlier to compensate for the added travel time needed to drop off multiple riders.

For the long term, governments must look at land-use policies that encourage long commutes and discourage walking or bicycling.


Rail-trail paths, such as the one that runs from Big Pool to Hancock, might even be extended to make them attractive to commuters.

The federal government also has to require a steady improvement in fuel efficiency from manufacturers who want their cars and trucks approved for sale in the U.S.

And while we don't advocate going back to President Jimmy Carter's sweater-clad fireside chats on energy, elected officials have to be role models in the effort to conserve energy.

That means abandoning SUVs big encough to carry a National Football League's offensive line for something more reasonable.

And while we're at it, why not look at fueling more government vehicles with natural gas? That would not only conserve gasoline, but improve the air quality as well.

Americans and Tri-State area residents can deal with this development, but not by hoping it will go away. This problem needs a lasting solution, not an easy one that won't be effective much past the next election.

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