This 2019 new year of political climate change now finds green energy lobbies lining up to extract more subsidy gratitude from an indebted Democrat House majority. Carbon pricing proponents are encouraged that Democrats expanded their legislative majorities by displacing foes in key states.
Led by California’s path-breaking cap-and-trade regime, along with several northeastern states via the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), at least seven other state governments are poised to adopt fossil fuel surcharges of some kind.
And although Washington state voters rejected a carbon fee initiative last November, campaign spokesman Nick Abraham stated that “The issue is not going away, and neither are we . . .We stand to fight in next year’s legislation and beyond.”
Having repeatedly failed to pass previous federal anti-carbon “cap-and-trade” proposals, the slightly modified strategy de jure will simply add a special carbon tax to make fossil fuels more expensive. Once again, this scandalous scam is premised upon pseudoscientific alarm, hide-the-true-cost-and-performance non-fossil alternatives, and delusional revenue- neutral free lunch claims.
Represented as a bi-partisan proposal, and depressingly so, an Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act introduced by two House Republicans and three Democrats would charge $15 for each ton of carbon emitted into the air, then increasing this amount by $10 annually. Energy companies that produce or import fossil fuels — coal, oil or natural gas — would be charged based on their expected greenhouse gas emissions.
According to pipedream analytics, the tax will be revenue neutral because all tax dividends to offset increased energy consumer costs such as higher utility and gasoline bills would be dispersed to the public according to the number of people in a household.
One of the bill sponsors, Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., further explained that the revenue neutral carbon fee is good policy as a way “to support emerging alternate sources of energy.”
In other words, it is the latest iteration of a strategy to penalize “bad” fossil energy (which actually fuels our lives and economy), with “good” energy which, despite decades of massive subsidies, produces only about 7 percent of U.S. electricity (wind six percent, and solar one percent ).
Ironically, nuclear (20 percent of U.S. electricity) which is both a safe and non-fossil source typically isn’t included in that “good” charity-eligible category, while ethanol (a costly, energy-inefficient CO2-emitter) somehow always qualifies.
Instead of artificially leveling the playing field, let’s level with the public. A carbon tax would be revenue neutral only briefly, at best, and would then become but one more cookie jar to raid as a temporary sugar fix for government’s insatiable spending addiction.
Another premise underlying the carbon tax rationale is that it offers economic compensation for harm that fossil fuel consumers inflict upon public health and the environment. So where it comes to leveling the playing field for social costs, shouldn’t wind be taxed for environmental damage caused to endangered birds and bats it slaughters?
While we’re at it, shouldn’t solar power be penalized for all the toxic contaminates including heavy metals used in those PV panels that must eventually be disposed of?
And then also, what about the wholesale land damage and water depletion that results from growing and processing all that corn for ethanol fuel which, by the way, releases just as much atmospheric greenhouse gas as fossil fuels do? Shouldn’t it be taxed as well?
Besides, we’ve already been there — tried that.
President Clinton attempted a similar gambit two and one-half decades ago with a proposed “BTU” tax on all energy use which produced a costly political backlash.
He and congressional Democrats soon caved in to angry protests of a broadly-based coalition representing small businesses, the agriculture sector, the building trades, the transportation industry, manufacturers, and even social-service organizations representing poor and homeless clients who rely upon affordable gasoline and heating fuel.
As the great English writer Samuel Johnson observed, “There is nothing like a hanging to concentrate the mind.” One year later (November of 1994), Republicans took over control of the House for the first time in decades.
French President Emmanuel Macron recently experienced a similar “teachable moment” in public rage over his plan to raise gasoline taxes by what amounts to about 25 cents a gallon in order to lower CO2 emissions in compliance with the U.N. Paris Climate Agreement.
Similar measures caused soaring energy prices to damage Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany’s 2017 election, were repudiated by Australian voters, and raised political upheaval in the Canadian province of Ontario.
Such policies, driven by unfounded climate alarmism, motivated by green crony capitalism, and embracing the vision of transforming America into a European-style socialist welfare state, should not be countenanced by any authentic Republican. To do so would not only impose unacceptable economic and social burdens, but suicidal political costs as well.