So, We’re All on the Same page Then? Marin County, Exxon and the Washington Post Support Carbon Tax.

January 14, 2013


Marin Independent Journal:

THE FISCAL conservatives in Congress may be right when they say the $60 billion for Hurricane Sandy relief and reconstruction should be paid for without adding to our national deficit. Fortunately, there’s a way to do so that could unite green-leaning climate realists (such as Marin’s Jared Huffman) and red-ink deficit hawks in both parties.

But first, to get a sense of the magnitude of disaster funding that needs to be addressed, add to the Sandy expense the mounting public tally for last year’s other record-breaking storms, droughts, wildfires and floods. And the $114 billion deficit-funded cost of Hurricane Katrina that’s still rolling forward on the federal books, wrecking hopes for more balanced budgets and more useful public investments.

Expensive as they are, these disasters represent only small down payments on the ballooning costs of climate disruption brought on by our unbridled burning of oil, coal and gas. By blanketing the planet with carbon pollution, fossil fuels have ushered in a state of perpetual climate emergency.

But if carbon is the core cause of climate disruption, it can also be the core solution. Carefully ratcheting up existing fees on the use of fossil fuels could offset the public expense triggered by these storms, droughts, fires and floods. It could also help fund clean-energy innovations and climate-ready infrastructure.

Washington Post:

The smartest hedge would be a national carbon tax. It would marshal the market’s power to wring carbon out of the economy, putting decisions about the direction of energy and manufacturing in the hands of consumers and businesses that meet their demands, not Congress and interest groups that lobby lawmakers. When people must pay something for their pollution, they pollute less and invest in cleaner alternatives. A carbon tax would provide more certainty to industry and investors who currently can only guess at what climate policy will look like year to year.

But, given the dim debate on global warming in Congress, another consequence of a carbon tax might be more appealing to policymakers: revenue. Resources for the Future estimates that a tax set at $25 per ton of carbon dioxide would raise $125 billion annually — more than would be saved by eliminating the mortgage interest tax deduction. Even if much of that were rebated to ensure that low-income households weren’t unduly hurt — the right policy — a sizable chunk would be left to shrink the deficit or ease the major tax reform that Washington’s leaders have been promising.

Implementing a national carbon tax would be only one step toward addressing climate change, a problem that must ultimately be dealt with globally. But it would be a big one.


Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) is part of a growing coalition backing a carbon tax as an alternative to costly regulation, giving newfound prominence to an idea once anathema in Washington.

Conservative economists and fossil-fuel lobbyists united in 2009 to fend off climate-change legislation that would have established a cap-and-trade mechanism. They are now locked in a backroom debate over a tax on carbon-dioxide emissions that could raise an estimated $100 billion in its first year.

A carbon tax would force electricity producers, refiners and manufacturers to pay a fee for the greenhouse gases they emit. It is gaining interest as lawmakers and President Barack Obama pledge to simplify the corporate tax code and raise revenue to narrow the deficit. The devastation from superstorm Sandy following the wildfires and drought of this summer have also increased concern about global warming.

“It does fit with the Republican idea of cleaning up the tax code, and to have a clean instrument for addressing this problem,” John Reilly, co-director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, said in an interview. Given this year’s weather disasters, “it’s hard to stand up and say global warming is a hoax,” he said.

10 Responses to “So, We’re All on the Same page Then? Marin County, Exxon and the Washington Post Support Carbon Tax.”

  1. Lee Pillow Says:

    Fantastic! At last, Cap and Trade gets bypassed for a more elegant solution.

    Per the WTO, any tax you put on yourselves can be applied to imported goods, which will give us some protection from Indian and Chinese coal, as well.

  2. omnologos Says:

    I suppose you will know who the Exxon stooges truly are, after this.

    Ps IMNSHO an additional tax will only be an additional tax. Nobody will emit fewer CO2. If Exxon is behind it I’d be suspicious they have some ace up their sleeve.

  3. Whether you create a Petro-Dollar or a Carbon Dollar it is still a financial vehicle. The trick is going to be making 100% sure that the taxes raised from the carbon tax go directly towards bringing in the new ‘renewable’ and sustainable alternatives. the big energy corps may have seen the writing on the wall & decided to make money on both sides… after all if they see it’s coming anyway, they might as well ‘invest’ in it.
    Personally I’d like to see renewables for the ‘domestic’ market being focused on small local grids and producing energy from your rooftop, windows & new technologies like fuel cells… that way people aren’t hit with too many taxes directly on their fuel consumption… whilst the corporates and business sectors focus on large-scale infrastructure-typ renewables. IMHO it’s the only real ‘growth’ sectors left (sustainable infrastructures that is)

  4. Wes Says:

    I’m suspicious of anything that Exxon agrees to. But I’m also of the opinion that at this late date the carbon tax is too little, too late. There’s a lot of carbon in the pipeline already and we need to be thinking about carbon-neutral or carbon-negative rather than smaller carbon-positive. All this will do is delay the inevitable. Scorched Earth will be Obama’s legacy.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      the road to zero and negative carbon starts from “less carbon”

      • omnologos Says:

        But this is not about “less carbon”…it’s about “more taxes (in the hope they will lead to less carbon)”.

        In a stormy time about budgets, the last thing one should expect is for a carbon tax to result in fewer emissions, rather than yet another big bunch of money destined to be sequestered according to the wishes of this or that political powerhouse.

  5. Jeremy Nathan Marks Says:

    I am not hopeful that this will pass up here in Canada. During the 2008 federal election a carbon tax was championed by the Liberal Party and many analysts believe it was a significant contributor to their defeat. I think that is a highly debateable argument -no one is ever quite certain of what causes elections to go one way or the other. But the long-term effect has been to make people think this is a radioactive policy stance.

    This may be changing but with the Harper Government adamantly opposed to any energy policy that makes anyone in the oil and gas sector squeamish, I can’t see it happening. It would be interesting if President Obama championed this approach, though I am not convinced the GOP would support it even though people like David Frum are calling for it. I do not think that the Republicans are willing to go along with any major energy or tax policy initiative coming from this White House. Still, it is encouraging to think that a carbon tax no longer seems beyond the pale in the United States.

  6. alisonmassa Says:

    We need to get the producers to move to renewables as well as encouraging conservation among consumers. Eliminating the subsidies to big oil, coal and gas would pay for much of the $60 billion. This seems like the easiest first target. President Obama has proposed $4 billion in subsidy cuts in the 2013 budget but we should be pushing for a lot more.

  7. […] 2013/01/14: PSinclair: So, We’re All on the Same page Then? Marin County, Exxon and the Washin… […]

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