As much as we complain about the price of gas, the simple fact is we should probably be paying much more for it when you take into account its environmental and societal impacts. Recognizing that cheap gas is doing little to change the way we view and use oil, the members of the interdenominational Community of St. Martin in Minneapolis, Minnesota, have volunteered to pay more than the pump price for gas, and donate the collected “taxes” to organizations that are committed to breaking our dependence on oil.
As reported in Sojourners (July 2012), members are paying $1 to $3 more than the pump price per gallon, depending on income. The congregation then meets on a quarterly basis to discuss how the program is changing their personal gasoline usage, and to identify organizations that are working toward a more sustainable future. “Everyone is paying a different amount—from $10 to $385 per month,” said group treasurer Sara Nelson-Pallmeyer. “So far, we’ve given more than $5,000 to organizations working on alternative transportation solutions and advocating for political change around climate-change issues.” The group is also looking at funding a homegrown program that would help members ditch their cars for bus passes or bicycles.
For the members of Community of St. Martin, the self-imposed voluntary gas tax serves as a reminder of their acknowledged responsibility toward the planet. “If we really believe that God entrusted this wounded Earth to our care, then we need to actively look for ways to be protectors and healers of the planet,” said member Mary Preus. “The alternative gas tax is just one small step a community of faith can take to send a signal that there are some people out here who are willing to pay more in order to combat climate change.”
For more information on the Community of St. Martin’s gas-tax group, email firstname.lastname@example.org.