Add Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to the list of Utahns who are furious about the skyrocketing cost of gasoline.
"Every citizen of this state ought to be outraged at gas prices. It is an outrage. I don't know how else to say it," Huntsman said Thursday during his monthly press conference broadcast on KUED Ch. 7.
"We're reaching a breaking point when it comes to energy economics," the governor said, speaking of gas prices nearing and possibly soon exceeding $4 a gallon. "It's to the point where people are saying, 'I'm not going to take it any more."'
But Huntsman said there's little the state can do to ease the pain at the pump.
He opposed giving Utahns a "gas tax holiday" over the summer a break from paying the state's 24.5 cents a gallon motor fuel tax saying the lost revenue would stall needed road construction and maintenance projects.
A seasonal break in the 18.4-cents-a-gallon federal tax on gas has been proposed by two presidential candidates, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain and Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton.
"I feel that gas pain ... that people are suffering. But I don't think that would be a good policy," the governor said. "What does it mean on the other end, in terms of projects that don't get done, potholes that don't get filled?"
Huntsman also had little interest in so-called congestion pricing for highway drivers. Lawmakers are considering a type of toll that would allow drivers pay for access to less-congested highway lanes.
"I'm not sure that's the model we're looking for," he said.
The governor said the state's budget can withstand increased fuel costs, at least for now.The situation is putting more emphasis on fuel-efficient vehicles, Huntsman said, as well as on other options to save on gas, including telecommuting and carpooling. He has converted his own car to run on natural gas and said his wife is now driving a hybrid.
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