cash Gas and Diesel Taxes - A Problem based Learning Project

On December 26, 2008, The New York Times ran an editorial, "The Gas Tax".

checkmarkPoll your class.

How many believe the Federal Government should change the gas tax?

How many support raising it? How many support leaving it unchanged?

How many support decreasing it?

Would changing the tax, change your driving behavior?

The Challenge:

Watch Robert Atkinson, Commission on Surface, Transportation Infrastructure, Chairman on CSPAN - Washington Journal program that aired Jan. 3, 2009. Use the CSPAN archive site's calendar feature to back up to the program's Date or the Search feature to find the interview.

How much is the total price paid for gas in your community?

How much of that cost is taxes?

Find the same information for all the states that border yours.

Look into the issues surrounding the taxing gas and diesel fuels.

Examine the most recent Federal Transportation Bill and State Transportation Bill.

In some states, the gas tax is used to maintain, repair and develop roads and bridges. In some states, the tax also supports public transportation. This lowers the cost for public transportation riders by charging the cost to vehicle drivers. In some communities, gas tax dollars go to other spending areas.

How has your community benefited from the Federal Gas Tax?

How has your community benefited from the State Gas Tax?

What is the impact on car drivers when the gas tax is raised?

What is the impact on public transportation riders when the gas tax is raised?

What is the impact on commercial drivers when the gas tax is raised?

Is your state considering raising their gas tax?

What are some potential positives to raising the gas tax?

quill and ink pot Take Action:

Read the Guide to Persuasive Writing

Write a Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper regarding this issue. Give a specific action you are supporting with regards to gas taxes on the federal and state level.


Write a letter to your federal or state legislators regarding this issue.
In your letter, give a specific action (beyond voting for or against it) that you are asking for your legislator to take.

Your challenges include: finding their office address, using the correct salutation including title, as well as, following appropriate business letter writing format.

Many elected officials have an email form/link in their web site. It is reasonable to use this, in lieu of paper and postage, but format and style expectations remain the same. Write the letter in word processing. Edit it as needed. Then copy .. paste it into the email form. Some have a maximum character limit to emails. If that is the case, write the formal letter. Then drop the address heading and date from the email.

BTW - Writing and saving your letter in word processing is a great way to save a copy of your letter. You should always save a copy of correspondence you send to elected officials.

Picking Letters, 10 a Day, That Reach Obama

“You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.” Henry Ford

Possible resources:

National Conference of State Legislatures | THOMAS (Library of Congress) source for federal legislative information.

On Friday, February 1, 2008, the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission released its Interim Report.
Click here for an electronic copy of the report.

State Policy Options for Funding Transportation - National Governors Association | Watch Investing in Cars of the Future & Energy Innovation - Chamber of Commerce - Infrastructure | Independent Petroleum Association of America - lobby

The Highway Lobby | American Public Transportation Association

Google News feature - enter a topic to search news current and archives | State Gas Tax Guzzlers Forbes 7/30/08

Saving Energy Survey - Chart - Action

How Congressional Earmarks and Pork-Barrel Spending Undermine State and Local Decision making

DEFICIENT BRIDGES VERSUS EARMARKS - which is a higher priority?

Road Bill Reflects The Power Of Pork - Washington Post | Roll Call's - Earmark Report

"Remember, the gasoline prices, because of the oil companies, have gone up 50 percent, 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent,
and any gasoline tax would be applied back into public transit, into efforts to get people to work without bumper-to-bumper traffic
and wasting all the hours year after year. You can't look at this out of context.
We need a major surface transportation policy in this country that doesn't depend on more and more clogged highways." Ralph Nadar

Student activism - Read: Paper, Plastic or Reusable? | Rags to Bags | BYO bag

Problem based Learning / Internet Hunts / Nature / Computers / Pennsylvania Projects / Puzzles & Projects / Map tree inventory / Home

developed by Cynthia J. O'Hora Posted 1/2009, Updated 11/2013
released to the public domain in honor of Ralph Nadar who has spent his life fighting for the American consumer.

Aligned with Pennsylvania Academic Standards Environment and Ecology, Science and Technology: Renewable and nonrenewable resources.
Humans and Environment Explain how human activities may affect local, regional, and global environments.
Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening | Mathematics