The cosmic oil-consumption scales have been tipping back and forth a lot this week. On Tuesday, Nissan revealed that its all-electric Leaf will be priced lower than most of us expected. On Wednesday, President Obama announced that we'll be ramping up our off-shore drilling efforts on the East Coast. And on Thursday, the EPA and NHTSA announced changes to the nation's CAFE standards, upping them to more than 34 miles per gallon by 2016 and regulating green house gasses for the first time. So, in case you didn't follow, we'll be using none while drilling for more and then using less. Got it?

What's next in all this petromonium? The answer might be higher fuel taxes. Ladies and gentleman, behold the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman Energy Reform Bill. Along with a bevy of various carbon cap-and-trade ideas, carbon taxes, carbon dividends, carbon tariffs and carbon decoder rings, the K-G-L-E-R-B (K-Glerb?) recommends a straight fee or tax, paid by consumers at the pump, on transportation fuels. The levy would be linked to the carbon content of the fuel and the price of carbon in the other markets.

Raising taxes is rarely a solid political move, but its hard to argue that the average U.S. driver is overly-taxed at the pump. As of January, 2009, Americans paid less in fuel taxes than the citizens of Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Spain, Hungary, South Korea, Italy, France, Belgium, Norway, Germany, Britain, Holland or Turkey. But shouldn't we pay lower fuel taxes? Our country is huge! With the exception of Canada and Australia, most of those other nations are smaller than our larger states. And they have high-speed trains. We, on the other hand, have to drive. You ever tried living out in Western Kansas without a car? Virtually impossible.

So, how would consumers react to a carbon-based increase in fuel taxes? Raising taxes is rarely a solid political move, and its doubtful that the average driver would take much comfort in that fact about our fuel taxes already being lower than the rest of the industrialized world. On the other hand, in the coming years, the U.S. fleet will become more efficient to meet the new CAFE standards. So instead of paying less at the pump more often, we'll be paying more at the pump less often. And the cosmic oil-consumption scales will have been brought back into balance once more (GONG SOUND).

[Source: Treehugger]

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