February 28 News: Debate Growing Over Carbon Tax, Despite Slim Chances

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) wants to make doubly sure Obama won't propose a carbon tax.

Few, if any, observers or lawmakers think a carbon tax is likely to emerge from the gridlocked Congress anytime soon, and the Obama Administration has specifically said it isn’t planning to propose one, yet debate over the idea is becoming louder and more pointed. [Politico]

The National Association of Manufacturers and left-leaning think tank The Brookings Institution locked horns on Tuesday, with each issuing new analyses on carbon taxes that came to very different conclusions.

NAM says a carbon tax would cripple American businesses and not accomplish its goals. Brookings says the tax would be an efficient way to boost federal revenues, drive down greenhouse gas emissions and enable Washington to cut high corporate tax rates.

And Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), ranking member of the Senate environment committee, wants to make sure the White House isn’t interested. In a letter Tuesday, Vitter asked to President Barack Obama to reaffirm his opposition to a carbon tax — and to come out against newly proposed legislation from Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) that would put a fee on carbon.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has launched a program to update some of its nautical charts, thanks largely to climate change. The revisions affect Alaska’s coast, as ice that has historically blocked Arctic waters has plummeted in recent years. [Climate Central]

An expert witness said Wednesday that BP’s negligence caused the 2010 explosion aboard a Gulf of Mexico drilling rig, killing 11 workers and spilling millions of barrels of oil. [NYTimes]

As U.S. oil and natural gas production booms, the Obama administration’s energy policy has been “fluid” by necessity, according to top White House advisers, and “might not look perfectly pretty from the outside” as it evolves to shifting supply-and-demand scenarios. [Reuters]

U.S. natural-gas production will accelerate over the next three decades, new research indicates, providing the strongest evidence yet that the energy boom remaking America will last for a generation. [WSJ]

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) says solar power, a business it abandoned four years ago, may expand into the world’s biggest source of energy in the next half century. [Bloomberg]

Ministers are unnecessarily driving up energy bills for consumers by failing to fully commit to low-carbon energy production, the British government’s official advisers have warned the energy secretary, Ed Davey. [The Guardian]

South Africa delayed introducing a carbon tax until 2015, after objections from metals companies such as ArcelorMittal (MT) South Africa Ltd. and Gold Fields Ltd. (GFI). [Bloomberg]

28 Responses to February 28 News: Debate Growing Over Carbon Tax, Despite Slim Chances

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Is it certain that the carbon tax will come up for a vote? In the past, Democrats have abandoned climate action such as this because they said “We don’t have the votes”. More likely, some of them were afraid of losing campaign money from the oil companies if they voted yes, and support from Greens if they voted no.

    Let’s go ahead and do the roll call this time. More Congressmen (especially Democrats) will face revulsion from their constituents from voting no than yes. Some Democrats will face primary challenges as a result. This is what we need, instead of Congress constantly defending its habit of swimming in donor money, and defying the public interest. In this case, it’s only our survival.

  2. Icarus62 says:

    Brookings says the tax would be an efficient way to boost federal revenues…

    Therein lies the problem. That’s why we need a Carbon Tax & 100% Dividend as proposed by James Hansen.

  3. SecularAnimist says:

    And boosting Federal revenues is “the problem” why?

    Perhaps you are not aware that Federal tax revenues as a percentage of GDP are at a historic low, and that the Federal government is running huge deficits as a result, with the consequence that funding for vital Federal programs — including climate science and meteorology, and weather satellites that provide advance warning of severe weather events — is about to be slashed?

  4. Brooks Bridges says:

    Late breaking news on XL Pipeline and Obama

    From Michael Grunwald,9171,2137419,00.html

    “I’m with the Tree Huggers”


    “If Obama approves it, he’ll deserve all the abuse the activists hurl his way. There are many climate problems a President can’t solve, but Keystone isn’t one of them. It’s a choice between Big Oil and a more sustainable planet. The right answer isn’t always somewhere in the middle.”

  5. prokaryotes says:

    A carbon tax is required for the survival of the species. If we do not establish a tax on carbon pollution we will push the climate into a state in which the human race can not thrive.

  6. Icarus62 says:

    As I understand it:

    1: Most or all of the revenue would go to other purposes, not combatting global warming;
    2: Because it’s acknowledged as just a source of revenue rather than a way of combatting global warming, it won’t get supported by the public;
    3: It won’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions because any reduction of fossil fuel use will push the price down, and usage will increase elsewhere (e.g. China).

    Tax and dividend would give everyone an incentive to reduce their emissions and would be seen as fair, and a genuine attempt to combat global warming, not just another tax. Since it would apply to all fuels and all imported products, it would not be such an advantage to other countries – it would give them an incentive to lower their emissions too, in order to reduce the tax on goods they sell to us.

    At least, I think that’s the reasoning. Happy to be corrected if wrong!

  7. BillD says:

    I disagree with the notion that any reduction in fossil fuel emissions in one country is balanced by an increase in another. Often, a small advantage to energy efficiency or renewable energy via a tax on carbon emissions, is enough to reduce emissions and favor renewable energy. A moderate short term increase in US energy costs is not going to drive all manufacturing to China. In my view, the key point is to make progress in the right direction, as individuals, countries and throughout the world. The idea that all countries have to do the same thing at the same time is a sure recipe for not doing anything.

  8. Superman1 says:

    “we will push the climate into a state in which the human race can not thrive”. What are your metrics for identifying that state? Given the large lag times involved in the climate system, what are the precursor metrics that will tell us if avoiding that state is possible? Given the coupling and synergy among the physical phenomena involved in climate, what is the precursor ‘signature’ that signifies serious trouble?

  9. We need a tax that splits the revenues between the government and the citizens so it can fund important research, etc., while enriching the populace and offsetting the increases in gasoline and heating prices. AND we need a tariff on goods made in high-carbon economies such as China’s to “incentivize” them to clean up their act.

  10. You’re right, we’re already there. But at least we can still go into damage control mode. Should we just forget it? I think not.

  11. Paul Magnus says:

    “The poll shows concern for most issues was rising through the noughties and declined since around 2009 when a major UN climate summit in Copenhagen failed to reach a strong deal.”

    People giving up?

  12. Charles Zeller says:

    We should pressure President Obama to deliver a “they deserve a vote” speech – they being “all posterity”.

  13. Brian R Smith says:

    Doomers, as we have here, get off by wallowing in a hubris of hopelessness & think to impress with apparent superior insight by tossing out specious lines of questioning that ignore mountains of evidence they are already, obviously, familiar with. Demanding further proof of “precursor metrics”, for example, before we can say with confidence that we have a problem. Sounds nicely grounded in academic logic, but no thanks. I think I’ve already found the “precursor ‘signature’ that signifies serious trouble”. Want to give me your real name, Superman, so I look you up & test my theory?

  14. Paul Magnus says:

    How Fleet Street is still misleading the public over climate change
    The right-wing press is attempting to fool the public into believing that its opposition to green policies is based on robust evidence, rather than dogmatic ideology.

  15. Daniel Coffey says:

    I totally disagree with Jim Hansen’s proposed tax and dividend approach. It is merely a circle-of-life way to circulate money back to producer of products for which we have no substitute. We need to direct our resources into substitutes. That means decarbonizing electricity production and electrifying transportation to the maximum extent and as fast as possible.

  16. Daniel Coffey says:

    The tax only reduces usage a little bit. it does not fund substitutes, which is what we need to get us out from under the oil/natural gas/coal sellers.

  17. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Philip, I’m surprised to see you write “high-carbon economies such as China’s”. How are you measuring that? Certainly not by emissions per capita which are low. Are you aware of China’s plan to cap coal usage by 2015? Which country needs to change its motivation here? ME

  18. Paul Magnus says:

    Polls Smolls

    According to the new survey, 58 percent of Americans favor increased offshore drilling, and only 28 percent are opposed. Among Republicans, support for drilling is near universal, with 86 percent saying that they support expanded drilling. Most independents also said they support drilling, 58 percent to 26 percent. Democrats were divided on the issue, with 41 percent saying they favored and 40 percent saying they were opposed to increased drilling.

  19. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Years of relentless MSM brainwashing having their impact. No surprise, whatsoever. The West, in any case, is finished. The world will be saved, if it is, by China, India (if it gets its act together) and Germany, the one Western state that seems to have non-insane leadership.

  20. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Axelrod, the ‘Shadow Shogun’ would have to approve first.

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The revenue need simply be hypothecated to renewable research, development and installation, ecological repair and income compensation for the poor and the working and middle classes. Now that seems an undeniable ‘win-win-win-win’ situation to me.

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’m afraid ME that the Chinese are the new bogey-man who can do nothing right. The reality of their massive efforts is simply ignored, which is a very great pity.

  23. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    So the Rightwing MSM lie do they? Hardly a scoop, rather along the lines of ‘Breaking News (Fox Alert!!??) Dogs Crap on Footpaths. Read all about it!’.

  24. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I suspect the Big Bad Banksia Man in the BRICS group will team up with the EU which will be very hard to ignore, ME

  25. prokaryotes says:

    Well, we initiated it and we now might have a chance to modify the outcome.

    Actions we take today can considerably change the outcome, for the worse or the better. What we might have to deal with is a significant carbon excursion, which would destroy our civilisation. Though the question might be when not if. And again this might be tied to our actions we take today.

  26. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    As well as Brazil and India from the BRICS, there is Vietnam, South Korea, Turkey and Indonesia to hope for. Russia is currently lost to fossil fuel madness, Japan is enduring a neo-fascist revanchist episode under Nanjing Massacre denier Abe and South Africa needs help. There’s a lot of sane people left, outside the Anglosphere.

  27. Icarus62 says:

    If a carbon tax rises over time in a well-understood and predictable way, and the revenue goes to the public, that gives business an incentive to offer lower-emission products which the public will be keen to buy in order to save money.