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U.S. energy chief says gas tax would be 'highly divisive'

U.S. energy chief says gas tax would be 'highly divisive'

U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman defended President George W. Bush's drive to reduce oil consumption without introducing a gasoline tax, saying such a proposal would be too divisive.
Bush is asking Congress to aggressively expand the use of alternative fuels, mainly ethanol, to reduce the need for gasoline and put the brakes on growing U.S. oil use.
Bodman, a delegate at this year's gathering of world business and political leaders in the Swiss Alps, said improvements in technology would make these goals possible, rejecting suggestions that fuel or emissions taxes could help spur the move to alternative energy sources.
"The idea of taxing gasoline at an increased level, which is something that gets discussed from time to time, I view as a highly divisive matter," he said at a World Economic Forum panel including presidents, prime ministers and some of the world's top oil executives.
"People in New York view the taxation of gasoline as one thing," Bodman added. "People in Texas, Wyoming, in areas where you have to commute very long distances view the taxation in a very different matter. That's just in our country."
Bush's proposal outlined in Tuesday's State of the Union address aims to cut gasoline use by 20 percent by 2017, mostly by replacing the fuel with ethanol, and by expected improvements in automobile fuel economy.
The Forum panel _ which also included Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, Ukrainian Prime Minister Victor Yanukovych, Gazprom deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev, Exonn Corp. Chief Executive Rex W. Tillerson and Royal Dutch Shell PLC CEO Jeroen van der Veer _ covered a range of topics from climate change to the rise of state-owned producers.
Tillerson and van der Veer stressed that traditional fossil fuels _ coal, oil and natural gas _ would remain the primary source of energy in coming decades, and the challenge would be to make them cleaner and more efficient.
Asked which alternative source provides the most promise, van der Veer said it was too difficult to predict.
"That is why we are in so many," he said, citing their involvement in the biofuels, solar, hydrogen and wind sectors. "We don't know what the winner will be."
Bodman said that nuclear power would have to play an important role in future U.S. energy planning.
"I see no alternative other than nuclear power as an emissions-friendly source of electrical power," he said.


Updated : 2021-05-16 04:58 GMT+08:00