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Carbon Tax Both Viable and Necessary

Carbon Tax Both Viable and Necessary

There are a variety of proposals for a national carbon tax, some of which are summarized by the Carbon Tax Center, The proposals which have been introduced into Congress tend to be quite gradualist and often to have complex mechanisms of credits, trades, etc. The most appealing was the “Save Our Climate Act of 2009” introduced by California Democratic Congressperson Stark as H.R. 594 on 1/15/09 when Democrats controlled the House.

Stark’s bill would have imposed a carbon-content tax on fossil fuels starting at $10/ton of CO2 and increasing by $10 every year. Fossil fuels would be taxed as they entered the U.S. economy at the production or importation level. Unlike most other proposals I saw, Stark’s bill does not specify the uses of the revenue produced. I personally would use the money to reduce the deficit and then pay down the national debt unless there were emergencies requiring other deployments.

Stark’s bill and the others I saw bowed to perceived political reality by bringing in proposed carbon emission limits gradually. Our good friend Congressman Doggett of Texas, for instance, proposed in 2009 a cap-and-trade program to reduce American greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2050. I don’t think we have that length of time before natural systems deteriorate dramatically, and stop supporting our civilization in the comfort we have grown accustomed to, as a result of human-caused climate change. I think the cap-and-trade concept is kind of silly anyway. We need to make energy more expensive for everyone now and let the free market adjustments begin.

It’s the concept of full-cost pricing I’ve discussed before. The coal-power plants in Ellis County kick out tons of toxic fumes each day which causes many bad things, including lung diseases in children. We don’t factor the costs of treating those kids’ diseases into the costs of the power we buy from the coal power plants, to say nothing of the more general costs to everyone on Earth of increasing our air’s content of CO2, CO, mercury and other things that come from burning coal.


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Comments (8)

  1. ken Friday - 18 / 11 / 2011
    Would the carbon tax raise my gasoline costs and electricity bill?
    • GrierRaggio Friday - 18 / 11 / 2011
      Yes, it would raise prices on gasoline. The point of a carbon tax is to use the market to encourage people to use less hydrocarbons. A carbon tax should raise the price of burning hydrocarbons to include the collateral costs of using petroleum. Those indirect costs which we don't now pay at the pump include adverse impacts on peoples' health, deterioration of our climate, and the losses the U.S. military experiences in the Mid East protecting foreign sources of oil.
  2. David Friday - 18 / 11 / 2011
    Would this tax make our international exports more costly?
  3. Grier Raggio Friday - 18 / 11 / 2011
    David, A carbon tax will tend to make American exports of goods and services more costly. It will do the same thing for other countries that have their own carbon taxes.
  4. Trebor Friday - 18 / 11 / 2011
    Wouldn't the carbon tax raise the prices on everything? Any business that uses electricity would be paying more, just to stay in business. That cost would be passed directly to consumers. This would happen all the way down the supply chain (base materials manufacturing, manufacturing, distribution, retail, etc). Prices on all goods or services would skyrocket. Remind me...exactly why is this a good thing for the American consumer?
    • GrierRaggio Saturday - 19 / 11 / 2011
      A carbon tax would use the market to reduce the overall burning of hydrocarbons. The thesis of this blog is that excessive human consumption over the past many decades has endangered the natural systems on which we are all dependent. I believe the climate changes that are now in our faces are primarily caused by our continuing to take petroleum, coal and natural gas, which nature took hundreds of millions of years to create underground, out from their buried homes and burning them. The basic concept is expressed in this blog's title - "We Consume Too Much" - too much for our own long-term good.
  5. Robert Friday - 18 / 11 / 2011
    To effectively reduce demand, the carbon tax would have to be applied at the consumer level, so, instead of taxing a refinery, for example, the tax should be added to the price of gasoline. There are many of us who like to see this carbon tax as one of the main planks in President Obama's reelection campaign, indeed we would like it to be a core position for all Democrats.
    • GrierRaggio Saturday - 19 / 11 / 2011
      I'd also like to see implementing a significant carbon tax as part of every Republican candidate's platform. We are all in the same boat, and it's getting more unstable as a direct result of our excessive consumption of hydrocarbons directly in transportation and indirectly in the other stuff we buy at the store.

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