Activist Handbook 2000: Gasoline Tax

The Clinton-Gore Administration’s

Anti-Consumer Energy Policy

Why CSE Cares

The Issue:

Gasoline prices have risen 50 cents to 60 cents per gallon over the past six months, and in some areas costs more than $2.00 per gallon. The surging price of gasoline has highlighted America’s increasing dependence on foreign oil. In 1974, net imports of crude oil supplied about 35% of our gas needs. Imports now supply more than 55% of U.S. petroleum consumption, the highest ever.

In contrast, domestic production has plummeted. Since 1992, production of oil in the United States dropped by 17%, and over the past decade, the number of working oil rigs fell from 657 to 153.

The Problem:

The Clinton-Gore administration has done little to reduce gas prices paid by consumers, other than go-hat-in hand to the Middle East and blame energy producers. They have done nothing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Rather, the administration’s energy policy has increased the cost of gasoline and discouraged domestic production.


· The Clinton-Gore administration has pushed for new taxes and regulations on gasoline and other fuels.

· The administration has encouraged a sharp decline in domestic production and opposed new exploration for oil.

· Additional taxes and regulations favored by the administration, such as the Kyoto Protocol, would raise the price of gasoline even higher.

The Solution:

America needs common-sense policies that will increase competition, lower prices, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Government needs to cut gasoline taxes, allow domestic production to increase, and eliminate regulations that interfere with free markets.

The Clinton-Gore Administration’s

Failed Energy Policy

Btu Tax. In 1993, the Clinton-Gore administration proposed a new tax on energy known as the Btu tax. The Btu tax would have raised the cost of gasoline by 7.5 cents per gallon. Congress rejected the tax, but in a press conference one year later Vice President Gore left no doubt that he would try to impose the Btu tax at a later date.

New Gas Taxes. In place of the rejected Btu tax, Congress voted to increase the federal gas tax by 4.3 cents per gallon. As president of the Senate, Vice President Gore cast the deciding vote to approve the tax hike. Federal gas taxes alone now cost consumers 18.4 cents per gallon.

U.N. Global Warming Treaty. The Clinton-Gore administration strongly supports the Kyoto Protocol, also known as the U.N. global warming treaty. The Department of Energy estimates the Kyoto Protocol could cost the U.S. almost $400 billion per year, and economists believe it would increase gas prices by about 60 cents per gallon. Moreover, the treaty will do nothing to address any concerns about global warming because it exempts most of the world from its mandates.

New Carbon Taxes. Among the many radical ideas in Vice President Gore’s book Earth in the Balance, is a proposal for a new tax on carbon-based fuels. The tax would hit energy sources such as gasoline, heating oil, coal, and natural gas. Although it is difficult to predict how much, the carbon tax would undoubtedly cause higher prices at the pump.

New Regulations. Even as gas prices rose, the Clinton-Gore administration imposed a new mandate on domestic oil producers. In a classic example of one-size-fits-all regulation, the administration demanded a reduction in the sulfur content of fuel from 300 parts per million to 30 parts per million. This mandate is expected to increase gas prices by 5-6 cents per gallon.

Increased Mandates. In June, regulations pushed by the Clinton-Gore administration for reformulated gasolines (RFG) like ethanol went into effect. These have raised prices by at least an additional 5 cents per gallon. Rather than issue waivers for areas facing dramatic price spikes, the administration has insisted on rigid adherence to the RFG mandate.

Higher Fees. In March 2000, the Clinton-Gore administration raised the royalties charged on companies that produce oil on government-owned land – this at a time when gas prices were already rising.

Blocking New Production. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) consists of 19.5 million acres in Alaska north of the Arctic Circle. Seventeen and one-half million acres of this area are closed to development. The remaining 1.5 million acres may hold as much as 16 billion barrels of oil. This could replace all oil imported from Saudi Arabia for close to 30 years. But, the Clinton-Gore administration opposes any oil production in this area.

Talking Points

Message Point:

The administration has pushed for higher taxes on gasoline and other fuels.

· The Clinton-Gore administration supported the Btu tax.

· Vice President Gore cast the deciding vote to increase the federal gas tax.

· Vice President Gore wants to impose a new “carbon tax” on energy sources such as gasoline, heating oil, coal, and natural gas.

Message Point:

The Clinton-Gore administration has implemented new regulations on fuel users and producers, which have led to higher prices, and supports even more mandates.

· Low sulfur fuel regulations.

· Reformulated gasoline mandates.

· The administration supports the economically-destructive UN Global Warming Treaty.

Message Point:

Domestic production of oil has plummeted, and the Clinton-Gore administration opposes new production.

· Oil imports now supply more than 55% of U.S. petroleum consumption, the highest percentage ever.

· Since 1992, production of oil in the United States has dropped by 17%.

· The Clinton-Gore administration opposes oil production in a small area of Alaska that could hold up to 16 billion barrels of oil–enough to replace all of the oil imported from Saudi Arabia.

Click here to return to the CSE Activist Handbook for 2000.