JEDI Fund for an American Energy Future
A Solution to Deal with U.S. Energy Policy
I propose a concept that I believe this country is in need of and ready for. Energy for the future is a very significant issue. So are jobs. This country's appetite for imported foreign oil is shocking. The effect of our low oil & gasoline prices is preparing this country for a major shock in the future that we are not willing to focus on today. We as individuals are making poor long term decisions based on the low cost of fuel. Issues of environment, clean air and water, uncontrolled urban sprawl are real. Proposals to raise fuel economy standards on SUV’s is futile and a poor excuse to change anything. The recent increases in gasoline prices only show how vulnerable we are as a nation. It is not going to get better as we continue to move into the future. Now we read about Iran’s lunatic leader and possibility the whole Middle East could end up as a nuclear waste land. What will that do to our fuel prices? We, as a nation, need something different in our lives to help us focus on the future and how to make our world a better and more secure place to live now and for future generations.
MY PROPOSAL is to put in place a Justified Energy Development Initiative fund, raised by mandatory contributions when purchasing gasoline or diesel fuel. Americans, if they understand the purpose of supporting this fund will stand behind it. The money that this country will need to raise to develop alternative energies for the future is huge and will be paid through personal income taxes. Hydrogen fuel cells will require billions and billions of dollars to develop and that will come from us, the taxpayer. The end result is nothing different than today in terms of how we live and that does not solve the problem. My JEDI fund will cause Americans to make "better" decisions since energy costs now fall in line with their behaviors. People will demand lower cost alternatives, including cars and trucks with lower fuel consumption, which will cause private enterprise to invest in these new technologies without Government intervention or subsidiary. The significant drop in our discretionary spending, now going to buy cheap gas that we waste, will provide money to spur the economy and create jobs. Billions of dollars flowing to Middle East will now be spent to buy other things made in America and that means jobs. People will now demand more fuel efficient cars and Detroit will respond. That too will create new jobs. People will stop leaving the cities to move a hundred miles away from their work. This will curtail the huge urban sprawl and destruction of both urban cities and rural America.
The dollars the JEDI fund raises will be used for many things. It will be used to develop alternative energy sources. It will be used to support mass transit systems that will be needed or improved as people demand those systems. It will be used to improve our highway infrastructure. It will be used to help those industries and individuals caught in this shift in fuel costs to operate businesses totally dependent on cheap fuel, at least for a period of time. It will be used to help redevelop urban areas as people start to move back into cities. Like all healthy things in life, the change will be good for most of us, and hard for some of us who have grown dependent on cheap fuel and uncontrolled expansion based on cheap fuel.
We as a nation will start to make intelligent decisions about our precious Energy. Our future will change directions that will leave us stronger and more secure. PLEASE consider this, give the proposal some careful thought and support what I propose. I would like to hear your thoughts on this and if you agree, you should start calling your congressmen.
This country will never become more energy conscious or energy conserving without a major kick in the butt. Alternative fuel programs will be just exercises in futility until there is a public demand and need for it. My JEDI fund is a way to make this happen before it is too late.
How much would the mandatory contribution be? It needs to be significant and long term so people can plan their lives around it. I would start with a $1.50/gal contribution and up it $0.50/yr until it reaches about $5/gal contribution in 7 years on top of the retail price of gas. This sets in place a long term program and everybody can start to respond to it. Researchers can get serious about the needs and demands for alternative fuels, car makers can plan their R&D focus and product plans, the public can start to plan their lives and make choices that will effect them long term. It must be a Federal contribution, since to coordinate States would be impossible. I would suggest that the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Interior be responsible to administer the fund. Fixed percentages would need to be set; for example: 35% to alternative energy developments, 20% to mass transit systems, 10% to improve highway infrastructure, 25% going to 0% to subsidize industries/occupations hurt by our past errors in judgment (everything from truck transportation to taxi cab drivers), and urban redevelopment going from 10% to 35%.
How big is this number???? Well according to the Energy Information Administration of Department of Energy, we consumed 135,893 Million gallons of gasoline in year 2004! Currently the Fed tax on gas is $0.18/gal., thus they raise almost $24 B in tax revenues yearly. So at $1.50/gal tax, we would contribute $204B dollars, but remember that consumption would fall significantly as people reassessed their energy habits. This money must be used for the purposes specified. The American people, I believe are willing to pay this mandatory contribution, only if they see it going to create energy independence. These kinds of funds will be a significant step toward a better world. I am not a politician, so I am not the one to "sell" this to the American people. Also, remember, if we curb our consumption of gas, that money stays in our pockets to spend on other made-in-America things, probably to the tune of $100B a year. Now think what will that do to the job market in US?
It must also be recognized that as the cost of oil goes up, so will the costs of goods and services we have today. All of this needs to be carefully analyzed and studied. But now is the time to start the move!!
Lastly, how do you keep the bureaucrats hands off of the money? Hopefully, it can be allocated such that it can't be diverted. The public is paying for this and needs to see progress and that their mandatory contributions are being spent right and as promised.
Help yourself to revising this concept as you see fit. I would love to just see a single reaction to the idea! I would love to see a politician take this and run with it. It is not suicide to propose this, if it is thought through and presented correctly and positively. The question is how to sell it to America? This is a question on how to get fit and healthy. Getting healthy is not easy, we all know that, but we also know that we will all live longer if we make the sacrifices and just do it and do it right.
Richard Marks is the President/Chief Engineer for EnVironmental Transportation Solutions, LLC.
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