If D.C. Is Serious About a Carbon Tax, It Could Seriously Save the World

There’s nothing like the word ‘tax’ to get people in Washington talking—and fast.
Could this "No Carbon Tax" sign be coming to a neighborhood near you? (Greg Wood/Getty)
Jul 18, 2012
A former Gourmet staffer, Lawrence enjoys writing about design, food, travel, and lots of other stuff.

The Energy Collective reported earlier today that, “It might only apply to industry emissions and nary a Republican would dare admit to seriously considering it, but talk of a possible carbon tax is making the rounds in political Washington and elsewhere.”

Interestingly, it was a Republican, former Congressman Bob Inglis of South Carolina, who got things going on July 10 with the launch of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative (EandEI). The Energy Collective notes that, “Two days after EandEI launched, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) hosted a private gathering. The agenda listed representatives of groups such as Public Citizen, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Brookings Institution and Resources for the Future.”

The Carbon Tax Center explains that, “a tax on the carbon content of fuels [is] effectively a tax on the carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels . . . Currently, the prices of gasoline, electricity and fuels in general include none of the costs associated with devastating climate change. This omission suppresses incentives to develop and deploy carbon-reducing measures such as energy efficiency (e.g., high-mileage cars and high-efficiency heaters and air conditioners), renewable energy (e.g., wind turbines, solar panels), low-carbon fuels (e.g., biofuels from high-cellulose plants), and conservation-based behavior such as bicycling, recycling and overall mindfulness toward energy consumption.”

MORE: Climate Change Is Screwing With Your Commute

POLITICO added to the discussion, saying that, “Nobody expects the idea to be enacted anytime soon, but some liberal and conservative thinkers are having a quiet, informal dialogue about imposing a tax on industrial carbon emissions . . . A loose collective has been discussing the idea of a carbon tax off and on since 2010, after prospects for Congress to approve a cap-and-trade plan died and the EPA was set to move forward with climate change regulations instead.”

But the site also observed that, “The result: a burst of loud criticism from the right.”

And quite a burst at that. The conservative blog Hot Air said, “The well-circulated idea of a tax on carbon emissions as an ostensible method of reducing both global warming and the deficit is an idea long held dear by the Left, and looks like it might be getting some renewed attention in the coming deficit battle. Thankfully, the GOP leadership is once again nipping that travesty of an economic imposition in the bud . . . Boehner spokesman Michael Steel had a one-word answer when asked, on Friday, whether the Speaker would ever consider a carbon tax to help address climate change and the deficit: ‘No.’ ”

Okay, enough said. Or maybe not.

Referring to the bipartisan nature of the AEI gathering, Competitive Enterprise Institute contributor Marlo Lewis stated, “In general, when left and right join forces, the appropriate question is: Who is duping whom?”

The lesson to be learned: If we want to have even the slightest chance of getting anything done in this country, never, ever use the “T” word.

Do you think the U.S. should consider a carbon tax on industry emissions?

Lawrence Karol is a freelance writer and editor who lives in New York City in a mid-century-modern-inspired apartment with his dog, Mike. He is a former Gourmet editor, who enjoys writing about design, food, and lots of other stuff. @WriteEditDream | Email Lawrence | TakePart.com

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