Want to cut taxes, decrease the deficit, reduce regulations and improve the environment? A carbon tax would accomplish all that, but it has surprisingly few supporters. In fact, policy makers are running the other way.
Economists have long argued that a carbon tax is the simplest, most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
It is a broad, market-based tax that would force carbon emitters to cover costs now borne by the rest of us. Polluters would be encouraged to clean up their act without the necessity of new EPA regulations. The opposition counters that such a tax would raise energy costs and hurt the fossil fuel industry.
According to the non-partisan Center for Climate and Electricity Policy, a tax of $25 per ton of CO2 emitted in the production of electricity, heating and transportation fuels would raise about $125 billion annually. Such a tax would add about 21 cents to a gallon of gasoline and 1.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity. On the positive side, it would provide money for tax cuts (some of which could used to help the poor pay for higher gas and electricity costs) and deficit reduction. A carbon tax would also inspire greater innovation and energy efficiency
It would undoubtedly be opposed by lobbyists from the fossil fuel, auto and power utilities who are big contributors to political campaigns. Many citizens have become spoiled by energy prices that don’t adequately reflect the cost of removing and replacing the energy consumed or the cost of repairing environmental damage incurred in the extraction process. While they are also likely to decry higher prices, it’s time to face reality!
Despite the hurdles, a number of principled parties trudge on. South Carolina Republican Bob Inglis who may have lost his job in Congress by supporting a carbon tax, is dedicating his post-congressional career just such a tax. Says Inglis, “Losing an election is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Losing your soul is considerably worse.”
Courtesy of Wide Angle Thinking.
For more from David Schwerin, tune into an interview with him on today’s episode of Biology of the Blog.