On Thursday, President Obama released a fact sheet for his 21st Century Clean Transportation System strategy, outlining the ways in which he plans to “[make] smart and strategic investments to create a cleaner, more sustainable transportation system.”
The primary method of funding for this is through a proposed $10 tax on every barrel of oil (paid by oil companies), gradually phased over the next five years. This will generate the estimated $35 billion a year necessary for his proposals.
Among the benefits of the plan include, “[increasing] American investments in clean transportation infrastructure by roughly 50 percent, while reforming the investments we already make to help reduce carbon pollution, cut oil consumption, and create new jobs.”
The three fundamental goals it details are to reduce carbon pollution, strengthen the economy, and make transportation easier for American families.
The seeds for this clean transportation strategy were planted in 2009 when Obama passed the American Recovery and Re-investment Act of 2009, which made investments in clean energy, decreased costs of wind and solar energy, funded high-speed transit, and attempted to decrease American dependence on gas-guzzling cars.
This new plan hopes to expand and enhance Obama’s initial vision of clean transportation. It puts emphasis on local and state public transit systems, rewarding local governments for innovation in terms of increasing public transportation, encouraging better land use planning and regional-scale transportation, ultimately hoping to create Clean Communities.
The notion behind taxing oil companies comes from a desire to include the private sector, giving them a “clear incentive…to reduce our reliance on oil and at the same time invests in clean energy technologies that will power our future.”
According to ThinkProgress, environmental groups have celebrated the efforts: “Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune [pointed] out that, following the historic Paris climate agreement, this move shows how ‘President Obama laid out more of his vision of how we can meet this agreement by challenging Big Oil’s stranglehold on how America powers its transportation sector.’”
In contrast, Republicans, of course, only contributed complaints and criticism.
Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, issued a tone-deaf statement, declaring that, “Once again, the president expects hardworking consumers to pay for his out of touch climate agenda. [A tax]…would raise energy prices—hurting poor Americans the most …[This] proves President Obama is still on a mission to destroy a major backbone of the U.S. economy.”
That Obama, always so evil, attempting to ruin the very country he runs.
House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said, "This horrible idea is a waste of time that will never see the light of day,” while Majority Whip Steve Scalise called the proposal, “dead on arrival.”
Certain analysts, such as Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, are speculating that oil companies will simply pass the tax onto consumers and we will see a rise in gas prices, but it’s too early to tell.
Regardless, Obama’s continued efforts to implement important, long-term investments in clean energy and transportation are laudable, even if the Republicans will never agree.
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