Unfortunately, the message had the wrong messenger. And maybe the wrong message, kinda.
We pay a lot less for gas than most places. Nothing wrong with that. But we are unprepared for any crisis. The 2nd time gas went through the roof (the first being the oil embargo) we were caught off guard and everyone and their brother in the industry was looking for viable alternatives (mostly different bio fuel's).
So, prices go back down and everyone forgets that prices are volatile and we are mainly dependent on other countries to supply us with fuel (like, Canada and Mexico, never mind the Saudi's).
Anyways, there is no investment in any alternative. Bio, alge*, solar, hydrogen, Pixie Dust, whatever. Gas goes down, "X is not a viable alt until it can compete pricewise with gas" and a couple years later we are all 'Deer in the Headlights' when gas goes over $4/gal. Again.
Many people have thought that there needs to be some incentive to get research going in this area. They propose a surtax on gas, not to fund research, but to get people to bitch enough to spur research. Do I think we should tax gas to spur research? No.
I think we should treat it like we always have. Create a mandate to develop a sustainable fuel, and give tax cuts for research to private corp's on one end and funding to elite University's on the other and you will find a break through.
Or, we can continue to do nothing and just act all surprised again when gas hits $5/gallon.
* Boeing and the military think this could be the next big breakthrough. Its fairly easy to produce, can be pumped and treated like normal diesel. Just costs too much right now. But we'll see....