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KATRINA FOLEY, OC Board Supervisor
Gas prices continue to soar for Orange County residents, with no end in sight. This is why I requested that my colleagues on the Orange County Board of Supervisors join me to ask Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state legislature to provide taxpayers with a rebate or suspend the gas tax for one year, as long as that lost revenue is backfilled by the state budget surplus so we can continue to fund much-needed infrastructure.
While suspending the gas tax or offering an equivalent rebate will not completely solve the scourge of ever-increasing gas prices, it’s vital that we provide respite to Orange County families struggling to pay for gas.
While Putin’s war in Ukraine, disruptions in the supply chain due to the pandemic, corporate greed, and California’s 51-cent gas tax cause an impact, to truly reduce the burden of increasing prices at the pump, we need long-term planning.
First, we must wean ourselves from oil and transition toward clean energy resources, including working with the private sector and energy providers to add new electric, solar-powered vehicle charging stations.
Access to community charging stations and less expensive electric vehicles (EV) save substantially on gas bills. The market is telling us that EVs are a better economic option. We must listen.
Next, we need access to walking or biking to work or school, instead of driving. As mayor of Costa Mesa, I initiated an Active Transportation Plan to improve safe mobility. Now, I, as county supervisor and OCTA director, am working to add miles of new, protected bike lanes and walking trails, so residents can safely and easily get around.
Our dirty, under-utilized flood channels remain an untapped resource for this effort, as long as we also invest in public safety resources to patrol these areas.
Lastly, modernizing our fleet and public transportation system is essential as we move away from oil dependence toward sustainable technology. At OCTA, we invested in 10 plug-in battery-electric buses and an equal number of hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses in our fleet, with the goal of 100% zero-emission technology by 2040. I’d like to see more zero-emission county vehicles.
These simple and widely popular solutions reduce the impact of sky-high gas prices and improve our quality of life.