According to a report in the Palm Beach Daily News, Koch told an audience of around 600 people at the Florida city’s Chamber of Commerce that anyone who advocates for taxes on carbon dioxide emissions is “on LSD.” If people want to counter high levels of carbon, he reportedly said, they should just plant more trees.
Putting a tax or price on carbon is a popular idea among Democrats, with many progressive lawmakers on the record as supporting it. Republicans generally argue that a carbon tax would hurt the economy by boosting energy prices on fossil fuels, but some conservatives have supported the idea as a way to offset lower personal taxes.
For example, conservative economist Art Laffer has stated that — though he is “officially neutral” on whether climate change is happening — he advocates a fiscally conservative approach of matching carbon taxes with tax cuts elsewhere.
He’s not to only conservative to support the proposal. Former President Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz pushed for a tax on carbon in March. Former GOP Reps. Sherwood Boehlert and Wayne Gilchrest wrote in a 2012 op-ed that a fee on carbon pollution could “raise $200 billion or more over 10 years and trillions of dollars by 2050 while cutting carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2020.” Bush and McCain adviser Douglas Holz-Eakin supports a carbon tax in the interest of, among other things, national security. Former GOP Representative Bob Inglis said that he would continue to support a carbon tax despite almost getting his “head blown off” trying to do it.
Koch argued that a tax on carbon wouldn’t make sense because, the Palm Beach paper reported, “humans produce their share of carbon dioxide naturally and taxes aren’t levied on them.”
Bill Koch, the brother of Koch Industries Inc. principal owners David and Charles Koch, is a climate change denier who has said that investing in alternative energy is “foolhardy. He founded and currently runs the Oxbow Corporation, which has interests in various energy ventures including coal, natural gas, and petroleum coke. He is worth about $4 billion, according to Forbes.
So it’s no surprise that in his speech Thursday, Koch reportedly “dismissed concerns about pollution and environmental contamination raised with regard to fracking” and advocated drilling for shale gas. Koch informed his audience that “coal is relatively low in price, that oil has been “pretty cheap” until recently and that there is an abundance of natural gas, available at a price almost competitive with coal,” the Palm Beach paper reported.
“We can’t count on renewable energy to save us,” Koch said.
A wide-ranging list of businesses, politicians and organizations that support a tax on carbon emissions can be found here.