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Comments about ‘Utah Economic Development Task Force urges immediate action on air quality’

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Published: Wednesday, Nov. 20 2013 4:44 p.m. MST

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Prodicus
Provo, UT

The only thing that will make a serious long-term dent in this is to bring the gas tax up to a reasonable level and ensure that not a cent is paid on road construction and maintenance except what comes out of fuel tax and vehicle fees.

Experts across the political spectrum, most notably Greg Mankiw (Harvard economics professor, adviser to Bush and Romney) say the gas tax should be a dollar per gallon higher nationwide.

Once the cost of gas at the pump more accurately reflects the externalities- the real cost to society of fuel use and road congestion- people will come up with their own innovative solutions to the problem.

It may be politically unpopular now, but that's only because of misinformation. It's not a costly solution as we're already bearing those costs- in the form of other taxes that have to pay for the construction and maintenance of our overused roads and in the form of losses to health, tourism, and many other areas of life that come from having our valleys perpetually filled with smog.

My2Cents
Taylorsville, UT

This phony committee is a misdirection and governemnt attempt to deny accountability by distribution of growth and "development". The committee knows first hand that it is how this state is being developed and the centralization of development in the valley must be limited to reduce congestion and pollution.

Spread development to other counties of this state where they do need more full time year round business. Its not a hard answer to reduce pollution, its that state and local government is not cooperating with reducing congestion.

Citizen awareness and raising taxes has always been belief but is a lie, government must do its part in the distribution of industry in a more equitable system to minimize pollution. Its better to start the redistribution and relocation process than force existing business and jobs to close their doors and hinder business relocation to Utah.

Improper development to feed the more powerful local and wealthy business owners and state agency's, this committee should be focusing their study on. People will move to where the jobs are and moving them out of this valley will reduce pollution and provide jobs where they are critical to improve the states economy.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

I don't like the thought of going back to horse and buggy and the locomotive days. I never thought that a state should go in debt, but they are and they want more and more money.

Jumpyman
Salt Lake City, UT

@my2cents-
how is the committee supposed to de-centralize the valley and get people to move out into the rural areas where there is limited resources such as water, power, and other infrastructure? Instead of one valley having pollution problems, you would spread the pollution to more Utah Mountain Valleys.

It seems the best answer is the exact opposite of what you say, and that is to centralize more. Utah is slowly moving in that direction where more people can live, shop, and work in a centralized area, with good public transportation and the ability to get around without a personal motorized vehicle. Utah has always been one of the areas where "urban spread" is a problem. I don't see how spreading out the population will help at all.

Jumpyman
Salt Lake City, UT

Prodicus,

What you are suggesting is a really bad idea for economic and environmental reasons. First of all, I have no problems with a gax tax. It is a usage tax meaning if you drive on public infrastructure, you pay for that infrastructure. But by forcing people to not be able to afford to drive, you are in effect destroying the economy. By doing that, you drastically reduce the amount of money that the government gets by reducing numbers of tax payers, putting a bigger burden on those who have no choice, but to drive. Imagine what the cost of another doller per gallon would do the airline industry, the retail industry, manufacturing, tourism, small businesses, and in the end, the environment. All of these would hurt by a huge gas tax. People won't go on as many vacations, transporting food and goods will increase prices at the store. People will buy less, causing economic downturn. Incomes will drop, GDP decreases, prices go up, taxes go up, and standard of life drops. Sounds like a winner to me.

Prodicus
Provo, UT

Jumpyman, what makes you think you know the economy better than leading economists like Mankiw?

Germany's gas tax is $3.30 per gallon. The US average is $0.48/gal. Their economy is doing tremendously better than ours.

A higher gas tax would bring about more efficient transport of goods; roads would be less congested and more efficient alternatives currently underused due to distortionary road subsidies, such as trains, would gain traction.

Overall consumer spending would hardly be affected. It's not as though the additional money spent on gas disappears; increased gas tax revenue would allow reducing other taxes, e.g. those directly tied to productivity (payroll, income). Only those whose transit is unfairly subsidized now would be even slightly worse off.

"Imagine the cost ... in the end, the environment" - you don't even try to back up this absurd claim. How, exactly, do you think a moderate increase in the fuel tax and the reduced pollution it would cause are going to ruin the environment?

Jumpyman
Salt Lake City, UT

Prodicus,

Comparing Germany, a small country where cities and villages are tight-knit and have existed for centuries to the US is quite a stretch. The US econonmy is dependent upon automobiles. Especially in the western states where there are vast stretches of land between cities and passenger rail and public transportation is rare to non-existent. My point in a few words about the environment being by a higher gas tax may be a stretch, but is stems from a resultant decrease in local government funding due to lower tax revenue, and more environmental abuse occurring due to the need for mining alternative fuels such as coal, rare-earth minerals for "green energy" etc. As to your point in lowering other taxes as a result of a higher gas tax- when has a tax ever been reduced longterm? As I said before, I have no problems with a gas tax. In fact I support increasing the tax, but putting a $1.00 per gallon tax in place would kill the US economy. If you did it gradually over several years, it might work.

Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT

Part of the solution is building infrastructure and incentives for electric vehicles. I'm amazed by how many are already common in Cache Valley (due to many university folks adopting them), but one colleague told me he had to wait four hours to recharge his car in a remote area of Idaho recently, though there are fast 20-minute stations here and there along the Wasatch Front.

Kudos to Patrice Arent and other legislators who are moving to get through the policy hurdles to have more and better charging stations available in Utah as part of the clean air solution.

In Silicon Valley, some charging stations are solar powered so when people park their cars at work, they get a long charge that givens them sufficient juice during the day and when they plug in at night at home, charging doesn't become a problem for most commuting travel.

Electric vehicles are part of the solution because as the West gains more and more renewable energy onto the electric grid, it means our transportation can be fueled increasingly by clean, price-stable energy.

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