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Gas Prices Are Still Too Low for Our Own Good

June 01, 2004

Much has been made of the price of a gallon of gas. It is too high, most claim. I would like to suggest another perspective: The price of a gallon of gas is actually too low. Factor in the environmental costs of the burning of fossil fuels, the societal health costs resulting from smog and the generous tax credits and tax abatements given the petroleum industry and the true cost of gasoline becomes apparent -- at least in the countries of Europe and Japan, among others.

Averaging more than $4 a gallon in those countries, the higher prices reflect taxes levied on gas to pay for the health problems brought on by smog, and for environmental cleanup and restoration because of oil spills and pollution.

Further, these higher prices encourage conservation, development of more fuel-efficient cars and trucks and, perhaps most important at the moment, discourage the need to go to war in such places as Iraq to satisfy an addiction to cheap gasoline.

So bring on the $4 gallon of gas! I drive a car that gets 70 miles per gallon, and you could too. I can drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco on just over five gallons. At $4 per gallon, the cost would be $20. Big deal. This would be a small price to pay for reduced healthcare costs, cleaner air and elimination of dependency on Middle East oil.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 03, 2004 Home Edition California Part B Page 10 Editorial Pages Desk 0 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Gasoline -- A June 1 letter said incorrectly that at 1.16 euros per liter, gas cost the equivalent of $3.62 a gallon in Germany. At $1.22 to the euro, gas costs about $5.38 a gallon in Germany.

Carter C. Bravmann

Los Angeles

I have the perfect cure for high gas prices. Since about a third of the cost of a gallon of gas nationwide is local, state and federal taxes, why not eliminate those taxes and give the struggling consumer a break? The price reduction also would boost the economy, force those governments to live within their means and, in the process, eliminate waste and excessive bureaucracy. A win-win situation.

Tom Kerr


I just read "$2.36 a Gallon? Honey, I Shrunk the SUV" (May 27). In Germany, we pay $3.62 a gallon (1.16 euros a liter)! One reason is that we pay more than 70% in taxes for fuel. But this year we spent our vacation in the U.S. (Manhattan Beach) -- cheap dollars and very cheap fuel.

Dirk Woestmann



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