University of California Energy Institute

CSEM WP-182

The Implications of a Gasoline Price Floor for California Budget and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Severin Borenstein

Abstract:
California is faced with an unprecedented budget crisis. The state is also committed to significant reductions in greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Meanwhile, the price of gasoline is plunging as the world economic slowdown cuts oil demand. At the intersection of these three situations lies an opportunity. In this policy paper, I analyze the effects of a transportation fuel surcharge that moves inversely to the price of oil. Such a surcharge could stabilize gasoline prices at levels that a few months ago would have been celebrated by consumers and still significantly reduce California’s budget deficit. It would also slow the return of gas-guzzling vehicles that will otherwise result if oil prices remain at current levels.

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