Saturday, July 07, 2007

Is this the right time to attack Dingell? | Gristmill: The environmental news blog | Grist

Chair of House Energy Committee floats Carbon Tax Shift


Al Gore

The individual who has done the most to raise the nation’s consciousness on climate change is an outspoken advocate for taxing carbon emissions. In a July 19, 2006 speech at Wal-Mart’s Bentonville, AR headquarters, Gore said, "We should sharply reduce payroll taxes and make it all up in CO2 taxes so the low- and middle-income people don’t bear the cost burden of this big transition in energy sources." Gore spoke in the same vein two months later at NYU Law School:

For the last fourteen years, I have advocated the elimination of all payroll taxes — including those for social security and unemployment compensation — and the replacement of that revenue in the form of pollution taxes — principally on CO2. The overall level of taxation would remain exactly the same. It would be, in other words, a revenue neutral tax swap. But, instead of discouraging businesses from hiring more employees, it would discourage business from producing more pollution.

In his remarks to Congress in March, 2007, Gore said "I fully understand that this [taxing the carbon content of fuels] is considered politically impossible, but part of our challenge is to expand the limits of what is possible." Reported by Greenwire. Gore’s 10 legislative recommendations, reported by Gristmill, are here.


Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut): Senator Dodd has called for a Corporate Carbon Tax, described as follows on his web site:

    Enact a Corporate Carbon Tax. A Corporate Carbon Tax will discourage big corporate polluters and stimulate innovation. The revenues of a corporate carbon tax—estimated at over $50 billion annually—will be placed into a Corporate Carbon Tax Trust Fund (CCTTF) to fund:
  • Fast tracked research, development and deployment of renewable technologies such as wind, solar, as well as ethanol and other biofuels;
  • Efforts to expedite the process for bringing energy efficient technologies to market.

Senator Dodd has the political courage to level with the American people that a tax on carbon is essential to curb global warming: "You have to have a price-driven strategy if you are going to succeed in this thing," Dodd said in an April 19 telephone interview with The Associated Press and picked up by MSNBC. "Otherwise, I’m afraid it’s just a lot of talk. People are trying to avoid the difficult decision." On May 31, Senator Dodd released a new television ad slated to run in Iowa and New Hampshire that promotes what he refers to as "a courageous Corporate Carbon Tax to transform American Industry." To see the new ad on You Tube, click here.

Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA) and Congressman Jim McDermott (D-Wash): Congressmen Stark and McDermott are the lead sponsors of the "Save Our Climate Act," which would impose a $10 per ton (of carbon) charge on coal, petroleum and natural gas when the fuel is either extracted or imported. The charge would increase by $10 every year until U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have dropped 80% from 1990 levels.

Rep. John Dingell, the senior member of Congress and chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee: My own judgment is that we are going to have to adopt a cap-and-trade system and some form of carbon emission fee to achieve the reductions we need. (June 2007; see article in Gristmill for link and context.)