"Eight Senate Democrats are opposing speedy action on President Barack Obama's bill to combat global warming, complicating prospects for the legislation and creating problems for their party's leaders.
"The eight Democrats disapprove of using the annual budget debate to pass Obama's 'cap and trade' bill to fight greenhouse gas emissions, a measure that divides lawmakers, environmentalists and businesses. ..."
"'Enactment of a cap-and-trade regime is likely to influence nearly every feature of the U.S. economy,' wrote the Democratic senators, mostly moderates. They were joined by 25 Republicans. 'Legislation so far-reaching should be fully vetted and given appropriate time for debate.' ...
"The Democrats who signed the letter, addressed to the chairman and top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, were: Robert Byrd, W.Va.; Blanche Lincoln, Ark.; Mary Landrieu, La.; Carl Levin, Mich.; Evan Bayh, Ind.; Ben Nelson, Neb.; Bob Casey Jr., Pa.; and Mark Pryor, Ark."
This Blog avoids partisan politics but this issue cuts across party lines and is somewhat "philosophical".
Although I am not a Global Warming "alarmist" and I do not believe human burning of previously-sequestered carbon (coal, oil, natural gas) is responsible for most Global Warming or most of the rise in atmospheric CO2, I am concerned about rapidly rising CO2 levels. I do believe we (humanity) should take action to reduce carbon footprints. I do not believe that action should be precipitous or extreme, but I do believe action is necessary. The sooner the better!
HOW TO REDUCE CARBON FOOTPRINTS ?
There are two general approaches:
1) Cap & Trade Carbon Permits and
2) Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax.
Both approaches will have the effect of raising the price of energy derived from sequestered carbon as a way to reduce demand and encourage more use of alternative energy sources.
CAP & TRADE CARBON PERMITS is a complex scheme where industrial concerns estimate the amount of CO2 they are currently spewing into the atmosphere and how much they could reduce those emissions by adopting new technology. Each country adopts a "cap" on the total amount of CO2 that may be emitted and imposes shares of the cap, as carbon permits, on individual companies. Companies that can reduce their emissions below their caps may sell the excess allocations to companies that cannot. The idea is that this will encourage companies to adopt new emission-reducing technology and use the money for the resultant sale of their carbon permits to pay for the costs of the new technology. This is an idea that is great in theory, but an invitation for cheating and scheming and massive government regulation and political influence.
REVENUE-NEUTRAL CARBON TAX is a simple scheme for taxing coal, oil and natural gas at the source (or at entry to the country) on the basis of carbon content. The money raised by that tax would be immediately refunded to the population, perhaps by reducing the payroll tax or by simply mailing a check to each holder of a social security card. The carbon tax will raise the price of energy (for example by about $1/gallon of gasoline and proportionately for coal and natural gas) and provide an economic incentive for industries and consumers to reduce their usage of fossil fuels and products that are manufactured using fossil fuels. Rather than have the government regulate and check on estimates of CO2 emissions, the carbon tax will allow industries and consumers to adapt according to their own benefit.
ALL IN FAVOR - SAY "AYE!"
Those in favor of a revenue-neutral carbon tax include a broad range of people, including:
James Hansen of NASA (who I said has gone overboard in his dire predictions regarding human-caused Global Warming) wrote:
"In my testimony [to Congress] I noted that a 'Cap' raises the price of energy, just as does a simple honest carbon tax on oil, gas and coal at the first sale at the mine or port of entry. 'Cap' is a pseudonym, disguising the fact that it is a tax, assuming that the public is a bunch of dummies, who will never catch on. With all its hooks and eyes, Cap&Trade will allow a lot of funny business. At least we would get a few Wall Street millionaires back in business, via speculation and gaming the Cap&Trade system (funded by John Q. Public, of course). ...
"A Carbon Tax & 100% Dividend would not let Congress enrich their favorites or divine winning technologies. Instead, the winners would be innovators who invent products with improved energy efficiency or develop carbon-free energies, which allow people to reduce their carbon tax."
Charles Krauthammer (Right-winger, writing in The Weekly Standard):
"The Net-Zero Gas Tax - A once-in-a-generation chance. ... High gas prices, whether achieved by market forces or by government imposition, encourage fuel economy. In the short term, they simply reduce the amount of driving. In the longer term, they lead to the increased (voluntary) shift to more fuel-efficient cars. They render redundant and unnecessary the absurd CAFE standards--the ever-changing Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations that mandate the fuel efficiency of various car and truck fleets--which introduce terrible distortions into the market. As the consumer market adjusts itself to more fuel-efficient autos, the green car culture of the future that environmentalists are attempting to impose by decree begins to shape itself unmandated. This shift has the collateral environmental effect of reducing pollution and CO2 emissions, an important benefit for those who believe in man-made global warming and a painless bonus for agnostics (like me) who nonetheless believe that the endless pumping of CO2 into the atmosphere cannot be a good thing. ...
"Today we are experiencing a unique moment. Oil prices are in a historic free fall from a peak of $147 a barrel to $39 today. In July, U.S. gasoline was selling for $4.11 a gallon. It now [Jan 2009] sells for $1.65. With $4 gas still fresh in our memories, the psychological impact of a tax that boosts the pump price to near $3 would be far less than at any point in decades. Indeed, an immediate $1 tax would still leave the price more than one-third below its July peak. ...
"What to do? Something radically new. A net-zero gas tax. Not a freestanding gas tax but a swap that couples the tax with an equal payroll tax reduction. A two-part solution that yields the government no net increase in revenue and, more importantly--that is why this proposal is different from others--immediately renders the average gasoline consumer financially whole."
Others in favor: The Wall Street Journal, Ralph Nader (pardon the expression :^), Exxon-Mobil, and me (July 2007, May, October, and November 2008).