I heard a radio ad the other day that chastised Congressman Bruce Braley (currently running to replace Tom Harkin in the Senate) for supporting a Carbon Tax. The woman in the ad said, “Call Congressman Bruce Braley now and tell him that you think that a Carbon Tax is a bad idea.”
I was thinking, “I need to investigate this issue,” when the disclaimer came over the radio: “This message was sponsored by the American Energy Alliance.”
I had to laugh. Of course the American Energy Alliance thinks it’s a bad idea! I imagined a similar commercial that could go like this: “Tell Congress why you think anti-bullying laws are a bad idea. Brought to you by the American Alliance of Bullies.”
The AEA was founded by a National Petrochemical and Refiners Association lobbyist along with Koch Industries. A carbon tax will force them to pay for the pollution that has heretofore been free to pump into the atmosphere, and to develop alternatives with less carbon emission. The obvious manipulation from the commercial created an even greater bias on my part to side against the AEA, but I did, nevertheless, investigate the issue.
The first thing I do when I want to broaden my view is Google the opposition. I put into the search engine: Arguments against a carbon tax.
It came as no surprise that there are arguments against such a tax. The most compelling to me was that it may push “dirty” industries to unregulated countries and make the world problem worse, and that oil could become very expensive and the costs will be, as they always are, transferred to the consumer. It is very difficult in a troubled economy, with a middle class on life support, to convince people that raising gas prices is the way to go.
Before I look for pundits and activists who support a position, I consider what I already know. At first glance, this is a classic Pigovian tax where a negative output or result is taxed and the revenue collected can be applied toward a counter-action to offset the problem.
Also, there is an upside to energy price inflation because it leads to consumer reduction of its use and the development of alternative resources. Very simply, people consume what is inexpensive and consume less of what is expensive, and while the immediate effect will strain a household budget, the change in consumption habits occurs very quickly; the market will adjust to demand.
A little research revealed some interesting numbers. A carbon tax of $20 a ton would raise about $120 billion a year or $1.2 trillion over a decade. Pretty good revenue from a negative emission which compromises our environment and stalls the creation of more cost effective and cleaner alternatives. That money could be used to develop new technologies and be applied toward tax relief and corporate compliance credits. With the carbon tax’s $1 trillion plus we could exempt low-income families, reduce the payroll tax, lower overall tax rates, and still bring down the debt and deficit.
These advantages are on the table before we even begin to discuss what is more troubling to many Americans: Our Environment.
At current rates we will put half a trillion more tons of carbon into the atmosphere by 2045 and 1 trillion more by 2080. Creationists, Republicans and everyone in between cannot dismiss over 10 billion tons of inorganic gas being added to the atmosphere every year.
If God did, indeed, create this ecosystem with its own cleansing apparatus, even His HEPA filter does not grow in exponential proportion to the filth created by humans.
So….I’ve reached a conclusion. As I see it, a Carbon Tax could be-
1) Economically stimulating
2) Environmentally healing
3) Debt reducing
4) Innovation incentivizing
1) Less relevant in comparison
3) Whining from the biggest environmental offenders
“This has been brought to you in part by the Pigovian Alliance to Counter Self-Serving Propaganda.”