Carbon Tax proposed to Congressional Committee

Three proposals listed in the House Ways & Means Committee report on tax reform call for a carbon tax: Center for American Progress (CAP) plan calls for a price on greenhouse gas emissions (CO2), an oil import fee of $5/barrel and elimination of US tax breaks for fossil fuels. and The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) calls for a tax on carbon at its source, an increase in motor fuel excise tax and elimination of tax preferences for fossil fuel production. The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network Budget for a Millennial America plan calls for an upstream carbon tax starting at $23/T and increasing 5.6% per year.


Carbon Tax Would Benefit Manufacturers

A recent report on how a carbon tax would affect our economy ignores the effects of climate change and benefits of clean energy, leading the writers to inaccurately conclude that a carbon tax would depress manufacturing and employment.  The report was written by NERA for the National Association of Manufacturers.  Interestingly, a previous report written by NERA admits that a carbon tax could be efficient in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

However, for the Manufacturers, the NERA analysts omit consideration of the huge drain on the economy from climate related extreme weather damages to infrastructure and businesses and natural resources. They omit, as well, the benefits of expanding American clean energy and efficiency industries.  

With a carbon tax raising the cost of the carbon fuels, oil, coal and natural gas, people would buy more clean energy and also invest in technologies that reduce their energy use. Increases in American manufacturing of clean energy would lower power costs, inspire growth in other industries, and raise employment. 

If the revenues from the carbon tax are mostly returned to the public instead of used to reduce the deficit, as suggested by the study, there would be a buffer for individuals and a bonus for the American economy.

A comparison of the costs of damages from emissions in a continued fossil fuel economy versus the cost of ramping up clean energy, efficiency and conservation to create a clean energy economy was done by DARA Climate Vulnerability Monitor, finding that “Economic losses dwarf the modest costs of tackling climate change.”

In addition to the $1.2 trillion loss in forgone prosperity by our failure to act on climate change, there is also the risk of unimaginable catastrophe.

A recent report for the World Bank details the costs and risks of continuing climate disruption.  The carbon fuel economy is propelling us toward : “shock to agricultural production…and pressure on water resources which would cascade into effects on economic development by reducing a population’s work capacity …and risk crossing critical social system thresholds..[where] adaptation actions would likely become much less effective or even collapse.”

A carbon tax that encourages competitive growth in American industry would benefit all manufacturers and consumers.



Tax Our Carbon, Please, Say Most Americans

Two thirds (67%) of Americans would rather Congress tax carbon pollution from oil, coal and natural gas industries instead of cutting spending on education, Social Security, Medicare and environmental protection, according to a recent Melman Group poll. 70% of voters would support a carbon tax if the revenue were used to help solve budget problems and give tax credits to individuals and households.  72% would support it, if the revenue were used to fund clean energy jobs and programs that help deal with the effects of climate change.

Let’s send thanks to Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for supporting S.7, the Extreme Weather Prevention and Resilience Act and ask them and our    Representatives in Congress to make passage of a carbon tax a top priority.

Climate warming emissions from oil, coal and natural gas contributed to over $100 billion in extreme weather damages to America last year. A tax on carbon will make fossil fuel companies responsible for some of these damages and allow clean renewable energy industries to revive our economy and protect our environment.

U.S. Voters Favor Carbon Tax

Clean Energy Investment Now to Reduce Storm Damages Later

The most important long-range action utilities can take to reduce damages and suffering from big storms is to make them less likely to happen by switching to clean energy. The link between burning oil, coal and natural gas and the increasing intensity of extreme weather events is well documented.and increasingly obvious.
Many states have adopted Renewable of Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards which promote decreasing use of fossil fuels, and utilities help their customers lower electricity with rebates for saving electricity, such as with insulation or efficient appliances. Still, worldwide carbon emissions are increasing.

Taxpayers are paying for the clean up of storm damage, and many other secondary costs of using fossil fuels. The industry should be responsible for its own costs it incurs. A carbon tax on oil, coal and natural gas with revenue returned to households would shift the responsibility for paying costs of using fossil fuel back on users and allow clean energy to compete fairly. Other countries would be likely to collect their own carbon taxes, rather than pay a tariff to another government.

A bloggers comment:  “LS, That is a BIG LIE you are repeating, Sandy was a relatively small storm that hit at a High tide and a lower then “normal ” pressure differential….
If your statement was true, there would be constantly falling records world wide, It isn’t so. Silly regulations enacted to appease Eco-Nutters faith based Dogmas of Anti-Carbon usage have excerbated the storm damage problems…”

My response: 

It is great that you are looking to records to inform your opinion. Here are some sources to consider.  Regarding weather records: The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is a source that would be accepted in a court of law. NCAR reports that …”daily record high temperatures occurred twice as often as record lows over the last decade across the continental United States, new research shows. The ratio of record highs to lows is likely to increase dramatically in coming decades if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to climb.

According to NASA: “ January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record. Throughout the last three decades, the GISS surface temperature record shows an upward trend of about 0.2°C (0.36°F) per decade.”
The Geophysical Fluid dynamics Laboratory at NOAA reports,  “Anthropogenic warming by the end of the 21st century will likely cause hurricanes globally to be more intense on average (by 2 to 11% according to model projections for an IPCC A1B scenario). This change would imply an even larger percentage increase in the destructive potential per storm….”

Prices Should Include the Full Costs of Production

Ever feel like all your efforts to lower your carbon footprint are just not solving the climate problem? Bret Weinstein, agrees, it is not enough, in a TEDX talk on the “Personal Responsibility Vortex,

Our society lets corporations make money without taking responsibility for covering all their costs. As long as they can dump garbage, pollute air, land and water with toxics, waste resources, and overheat the climate without having to pay for these costs and damages, they will do it.

We expect businesses to add value to our society by creating products or processes that are helpful. However, many businesses do only what is in their own interest, regardless of the cost to society. Since these self-interested businesses tend be more competitive, they gradually push the beneficial businesses to focus more on short-term profit and the system evolves toward ruthlessness. Since the economy spills over into politics, the dynamic also concentrates wealth and power in people who are then able to veto any attempt to change the status quo.

We need to do two things, first require that all businesses engage in full cost accounting, putting every cost, every damage, every external consequence of production on public balance sheets. Then, require businesses to include all those costs in the prices of their products.

For individuals to choose low carbon options without working to change the system, feeds the vortex.

Weinstein suggests that if the founding fathers had been able to look into the future and see the mountaintop removal, deep sea drilling and high line logging, they would have put sustainability into the bill of rights.

We need to direct our efforts to “collective action that can restructure incentives that surround the market” and change the system.

Carbon Fee and Dividend to Spur Innovation and Jobs

Bill McKibben’s Letter 12/13/2012, excerpts:   “We need a simple honest flat across-the- board fee on the carbon content of fossil fuels, collected from fossil fuel companies at the domestic mine or port of entry, the fee gradually rising over time, the funds distributed 100 percent to the public, equal amounts to all legal residents, not one dime to the government, no enlargement of government. Such a “fee-and-dividend” system would cause fossil fuel CO2 emissions to rapidly decline, most coal and unconventional fossil fuels would be left in the ground. For example, economic modeling for the U.S. shows that a $10/tonCO2 fee, rising $10 each year, would reduce emissions 30 percent after a decade,…

“We have tremendous potential for innovation that will be spurred once there is a rising carbon price. New products, more jobs. As the carbon price rises, tipping points will be reached where low-carbon or no-carbon alternatives phase in rapidly, leaving fossil fuels in the ground….

“We need building standards, we should not produce electronic goods that draw energy even when not in use, etc. Such things will be easier to achieve, and partly self-enforced, by an underlying steadily rising carbon price….

“Only a few nations need agree on a carbon fee. They will place a border duty on products from countries that do not have an equivalent carbon fee. …This approach provides a tremendous incentive for other nations to adopt a similar domestic carbon fee, so they can collect it themselves rather than lose it as a border duty…”

Citizens Climate Lobby helps citizens lobby for national carbon fee and dividend legislation because it “will put us on the path of a sustainable climate by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning us to a clean energy economy.” Check out their introductory call every Wednesday.

Wake-up call duly noted. Now what?

Extreme climate predictions most accurate, report finds, according to a Seattle Times/Washington Post article “ The world could be in for an increase of some 8 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, resulting in drastically higher seas, disappearing coastlines and more severe droughts, floods and other destructive weather.  Such an increase would substantially overshoot what the world’s leaders have identified as the threshold for triggering catastrophic consequences.”


Ok, so, what do we do? Personally, live a lower carbon lifestyle – dance more, drive less, plant more, purchase less, insulate your home, wear sweaters, vacation near home, skype your distant friends & family, and lobby for policy solutions.. Locally, get institutions to invest in green energy instead of fossil fuels, (see and install energy saving technology, tell your friends and neighbors what you are doing and invite them to informational events. Nationally, lobby for a carbon tax and rebate (see Citizens Climate Lobby), for an end to subsidies for fossil fuels, against oil pipelines and natural gas fracking, and for increased government incentives for investment in solar, wind, water, geothermal, wave, and tidal energy, efficiency technology, smart grid, electric vehicles and batteries.
A green energy economy is possible. The Jacobson and Delucchi plan,, explains how investment in solar, wind, water, geothermal, wave, and tidal energy, combined with energy reducing technology, smart grid, electric vehicles and batteries can supply most our needs. They suggest replacing all new energy with these by 2030, and replacing pre-existing energy by 2050, resulting in consumer costs similar to what we are spending today.
The energy from burning oil, coal and natural gas allowed us to build a civilization, with research facilities, and communication devices that allow us to make a transition to safe, affordable clean energy. Those who are afraid that sustainability will not help the economy are misinformed. It is precisely to save our loading docks, airports, highway system, computer capabilities, and the health of people who run this infrastructure that we need to stop investing money in last century’s fossil fuel energy and build American energy industries that will free us from the monopoly of fossil fuels and also save our mountains, trees, agriculture, water supplies and shorelines.