January 24 News: White House Says It Has ‘No Intention Of Proposing A Carbon Tax’

In a blow to environmentalists’ hopes, White House spokesman Jay Carney declared yesterday that the Obama Administration has “no intention of proposing a carbon tax.” [DailyCaller]

White House spokesman Jay Carney Jan. 23 deflated environmentalists’ hope of a major federal program to counter climate change, by declaring that the “we have no intention of proposing a carbon tax.”

Carney’s statement is a letdown for progressive climate-control advocates, who say the federal government has the regulatory and taxing power to try to affect the globe’s temperature by curbing the release of carbon dioxide from cars, houses, factories, power plants….

“I think the President has long supported congressional action on climate change,” Carney said Jan. 22. But “he looks at [climate control] in a more holistic way, and he will move forward in implementing some of the [regulatory and spending] actions that he took in the first term,” he said.

The Chinese government has announced it will aim to limit the country’s total primary energy consumption to 4 billion tons of coal-equivalent by 2015, in a bid to improve efficiency and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emission. However, the target will not be binding. [Reuters]

The European Commission has proposed new standards to encourage alternative fuel use — such as electricity, hydrogen, and liquified natural gas — throughout the European Union’s transportation infrastructure. [Bloomberg]

According to a new study, the Andean glaciers — a vital source of fresh water for millions of South Americans — are retreating at their fastest rate in 300 years, having already shrunk between 30 and 50 percent since the 1970s. [The Guardian]

Senator Lisa Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, says she will release a “very comprehensive” energy plan next week. The blueprint was put together in consultation with the Committee’s other GOP members, and will likely not include any proposal to curb greenhouse egad emissions. [The Hill]

Oregon State University will be building the first utility-scale, grid-connected wave energy testing site in the country. [Renewable Energy World]

43 Responses to January 24 News: White House Says It Has ‘No Intention Of Proposing A Carbon Tax’

  1. Thanks for the headlines. I do hope we can find a better source for news items than right-wing hack Neil Munro:

  2. Joe Romm says:

    Good point! Story is accurate, sadly.

  3. Thanks for confirming that. Crossing fingers, knocking on wood for solid climate substance in the State of the Union address, as Sec. Salazar apparently hinted!

  4. BillD says:

    I don’t know why the administration wants to rule out what would be clearly be the most effective and market-oriented way of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Isn’t this a lot like saying for example, that we rule out using military force against Iran? I understand that the White House is not going to propose a carbon tax in the near future. But, perhaps, a group of senators could, especially if the White House was not against it.

  5. Joan Savage says:

    I hope this is a version of Brer Rabbit’s interaction with Brer Fox.

    “Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please,” said Brer Rabbit. “Only please, Brer Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

    And what if some Brer Foxes flung the Obama administration into the briar patch of carbon tax? Not such a bad end, really.

  6. Senator Boxer has been talking up a carbon tax.

    Barney Frank, I believe, has introduced a carbon tax bill, fairly symbolic of course unless it gets leadership support.

    Waxman and Whitehouse have announced a task force, with this letter to President:

    I don’t think their letter asks for enough – setting national GHG targets beyond 2020, particularly for 2050, is essential to get long range planning organized. But these are all positive starts, in early days of what we hope is the new Climate Action Obama.

  7. It’s delicate politics. I have to think they’d propose it if they thought it would fly. I would read this as a signal that they don’t have the votes. It doesn’t necessarily mean they would never propose it, or support it if Congress proposed it.

    Maybe my sense of hope is sweet-talking my sense of reason. Without a carbon price very soon, this problem, which is heavily back-end loaded, gets exponentially harder and more expensive to manage. Not solve. We’re way beyond solve.

  8. Yeah, here’s a gnarly example of what Obama and the White House face in the Senate – and how much work we have to do on our electeds, overall!

    White House urges patience on Keystone

    White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration will not be pushed into making a hasty decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

    More than half the Senate – 53 senators – signed a letter to President Obama on Wednesday urging quick approval.

    Ouch! #ClimateMorons!

  9. Mike Roddy says:

    Obama’s definition of a “holistic” approach is to continue to encourage fossil fuel drilling and mining, and let them compete in the free market (not).

    I’m getting aggravated with the equivocation and continued insults to the American people’s intelligence. Why doesn’t the Administration try telling the truth, as an experiment?

  10. Sasparilla says:

    The cynical answer would be they want to make it very clear to those good high paying lobbyists and fossil fuel industry that pays them that the administration has no intention of really tackling climate change and that the talk and small amount of EPA is just for show to the masses (so the Greens don’t gain an avenue).

    I remember during the Bush tax expiration drama when the Admin ran out screaming to the media they wouldn’t do a carbon tax – even though the political angle appeared not bad – and thinking they don’t want to do a thing about climate change.

    As someone else pointed out presumptive Sec State Kerry has substantial investments in two Canadian Tar Sands Companies:

  11. Calamity Jean says:

    In the next to last item, did you mean to say, “and will likely not include any proposal to curb greenhouse _egad_ emissions.” or did you mean to say, “and will likely not include any proposal to curb greenhouse _gas_ emissions.”?

  12. catman306 says:

    Is a carbon tax “off the table” like a single payer health care system was four years ago?

    Apparently, in Washington, the best ideas die first.

  13. Sasparilla says:

    Frankly its amazing to see the response of individuals to Pres Obama’s speech the other day (we are desperate to cling to the slightest hope the president throws out) – amazing to see the Administration’s press secretary immediately backpedaling on what the Administration would actually do on climate change as he was being peppered with questions from the reporters and amazing to see that Sen. John Kerry has close to a million dollars in investments in two Canadian Tar Sands companies (wonder if that changes the odds of him approving the XL since it would send those stocks soaring).

  14. Ron Spross says:

    How about one of those White House petitions on behalf of a carbon tax? There was one last year, but it appears to have expired. Reboot?

  15. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You know that the bulldust is being spread when poor old ‘holistic’ is wheeled out.

  16. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    A few weeks ago the spokesman was clearer still in saying bluntly:
    “This administration would never propose a carbon tax.”

    Notably he’s never been instructed to bin the possibility of a price on carbon, and there are more efficient and more presentable means of doing that than a tax.

    I’m intrigued by your assertion that the climate problem is manageable but way beyond soluble. Assuming a best case of emissions control is akin to near-zero global CO2e output by 2050, with the ~30yr timelag on warming we’d have until around 2080 of continuous warming for both the loss of the sulphate parasol and the mega-feedbacks to kick in, and for the latter to become self-reinforcing.

    Given that global crop failures and consequent geo-political destabilization are now looking probable before 2030, that scenario looks like a grossly deficient attempt at management.

    OTOH, IF both Carbon Recovery and Albedo Restoration programs are agreed under the emissions control treaty, then a global temperature for reliable agriculture is rapidly restored, the feedbacks are halted forthwith, the loss of the sulphate parasol is offset, and the atmosphere is gradually cleansed of its excess GHGs.

    This scenario does more than manage the problem, it resolves it, and it is well within our capacity to achieve. I’d suggest therefore that the problem is eminently soluble.

    Perhaps you meant that the climate problem is not soluble assuming a reliance solely on emissions control ?



  17. Dano says:

    And next up, approving KXL pipeline.

    We live in a corporatocracy until we take it back, folks. Get used to it.

    Our kids will have trouble adapting, but who cares? We’ll be dead! :o\



  18. prokaryotes says:

    “we have no intention of proposing a carbon tax.” = No change of Status Que = No real Climate Action = Total Disaster!


  19. Superman1 says:

    Add to that Australia’s find of perhaps $20T in shale oil reserves, and we’ll have a bidding war on fossil fuel sources.

    Game over!

  20. Superman1, somehow it always sounds like you’d love that outcome – maybe just to be vindicated.

  21. monkey says:

    Probably because it is too political risky. Better to focus on more environmentally aware states like California and get one at a state level. Here in Canada, there is one in British Columbia which is one of the greener provinces, but when Liberal leader proposed one during the 2008 election federally, his party got slaughtered at the polls. Otherwise decisions have to have a dose of political realism to them as well.

  22. Ernest says:

    I would agree. They’ve got gun control, immigration, debt on their plates and only so much political capital to burn. Prediction. Zero can be done through the Congress (unless they manage to squeeze something through as part of a compromise with the Republicans on the debt). Realistically, all that can be done, or will be done, will have to be via the Executive branch alone, such as procurement, military, EPA, …

  23. wili says:


    Don’t tax it.

    Just regulate it out of existence.

    If someone was holding a gun to your daughter’s head, would your first impulse be to tax his bullets?

    Take the gun away!

    (I know, I know–this announcement is unlikely to mean that they are planing something more “drastic”–actually more appropriate–than mere taxing; but one must have a dream.)

  24. wili says:

    Apparently, he and his wife have plans to divest all such funds to avoid the exact conflict-of-interest claims you have made. There was an article about if a few hours ago in the _Globe_.

  25. Paul Magnus says:

    The difference between then and now is that ghg levels are spiking more than x10 faster than the have previously. And that the majority of ghgs being injected in to the atmosphere are coming from deposits of fossil fuels that have not been part of the interglacial cycling.

    It means that as the planet warms up and the natural ghg that have cycled through are added then we are going to have unprecedented heating episodes.

    Greenland’s Ice Sheet More Stable Than Once Believed

  26. Paul Magnus says:

    carbon trading schemes dont work. At least on there own. we have to have a price at source.

    EU carbon price crashes to record low
    Price of a permit to emit a tonne of carbon fell to €2.81 after an EU vote against a proposal to support the struggling market

  27. Paul Magnus says:

    The problem with whether we act on carbon emissions etc is that it has now started in ernest due to the spectacular last 2yrs of extreme weather events.

    The thing is I dont think that its going to stop now. And it will accelerate with more extremes and chaos. So there is going to be action.

    Is it going to be coordinated? Who knows. There is also going to be increased war and broken societies. We are going to be tested for sure.

    Mother Nature is going to ensure that…

  28. David B. Benson says:

    British Columbia has a carbon tax. Australia has a carbon tax. Neither economy is tanking.

    Pass a (small to start off) carbon tax.

  29. Paul Magnus says:

    British Columbia has a carbon tax, but hey we also have huge coal mining and export. I believe we are the number one coal exporter for NA or will be.

    They are just about to expand there port facilities to handle an increase in US coal which is now being funnelled through our coast. We are fracking the hell out of the NE of our province and are preparing to invest heavily in LNG terminals on the north coast to ship the stuff mainly to china.

    You see there are exemptions….

    All nice and dandy up here it is. Were still doing our part in frying the planet.

  30. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    If BO chose to lead from the front – a la FDR – then with ongoing extreme impacts he could well raise climate to a wedge issue drawing enough pro-action independents and repubs to retake the House and free up the Senate in 2014. Climate legislation is then achievable, and the proposed climate treaty of 2015 can be ratified promptly.

    I see no sign as yet that BO wants to do any such thing. After 4 years of opportunities completely ignored and of major opportunities brazenly crushed, we now see him hastily snatching gun control into a higher priority than climate, despite implacable 50% opposition.

    Thus far we have about a dozen sentences in the Inaugural address, of which about half can be read as emphasizing the importance of energy security and national economic dominance, not climate. We also have Carney the spokesman backpeddalling fast to damp down press interest and affirm the view that it’s climate component is only inaugural lip-service.

    Unless people challenge the received wisdom of just why BO has for the last four years and counting “betrayed our children and future generations” by neglecting opportunities for action, there seems little prospect of sufficient pressure being applied to change his deeply committed course.

    And no, his inaction is not driven by funding-corruption or by the threadbare excuses of being ‘too busy’ or fear of opposition; the paramount bipartisan priority in Washington is maintaining US global economic dominance, and postponing mitigation ‘just happens’ to leave the rival China in the firing line of crop failure, food shortages and dreaded civil unrest in the coming decade.

    BO has certainly been ignoring and talking down the issue until now to discourage public demand for action – see his brief press response After the re-election for how many Hype-the-controversies, Strawman-prevarications and Outright-falsehoods you can spot. This indicates that he is concerned that rising extreme events and rising public pressure for significant action could force a change of policy.

    Focussing that pressure onto the inadmissible bipartisan policy is in my view the only effective catalyst for change that we could apply. All other levers are either too short, brittle, or lack a fulcrum.



  31. David B. Benson says:

    Across the world, 160 new reactors are already in the planning stage; another 65 already being built; well over 300 in the proposal stage. from

  32. Merrelyn Emery says:

    David, Australia does NOT have a carbon tax. It has a trading scheme with a 3 year fixed starting price after which we join the EU scheme, ME

  33. Paul Magnus says:

    Yep they are talking about putting one in the Tar Sands to supply the energy to extract more tar sands.


  34. Paul Magnus says:

    Another excellent program… answers the puzzling question at end of why the US gov under Obama is leasing all those coal and deep sea oil fields off….

    The Radio Ecoshock Show: Can We Avoid A Collapse?
    “Population Bomb” author & Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich on his Royal Society Paper “Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?” From Tasmania, forest expert Dr. David Bowman: wild fires drive more global warming. Economist John Talberth suing the U.S. Government over risky ocean…

  35. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘market-oriented’ just means that it is designed to suit capital, principally the grifters of the financial apparatus, over all else. How about a ‘humanity-oriented’ scheme, instead, for a change?

  36. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Perhaps he thinks that ‘holistic’ means drilling a whole lotta holes.

  37. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘political realism’ equals suicidal ecological delusion. I’m climbing back up the trees!

  38. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Precisely as intended, and predicted by many who know how capitalism and the financial kleptocracy work.

  39. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Do we deserve to avoid a crash?

  40. Artful Dodger says:

    Kevin, is there any source which details which Senate Democrats signed the letter? These are the Senators that should face primary challenges in there next election. #BlackdogDems

  41. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Oh, happy days! More Chernobyls, Fukushimas, Three Mile Islands, Sellafields etc. More intractable waste, poisonous for millennia, and more depleted uranium that we can vapourise into nano-particles by using as a weapon, to go on killing for billions of years. We really are the ‘Psychotic Ape’, no doubt about it.