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Efforts on passing a Carbon Tax should focus on states to demonstrate effective political change similar Gay Rights and Marijuana policy.


Description

Summary

The primary goal of this Carbon Tax proposal is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through taxes and incentives. Carbon Tax revenue should fund conservation programs, low interest loans for renewable energy deployments of all sizes and scale, public transportation, and invest in alternative energy research. A successful tax will restructure the economy to be less dependent on fossil fuels. This is a different approach than a “Revenue Neutral” Carbon Tax. Reductions in emissions also reduce revenue and economic impact over time.

With fossil fuels, the cost of energy is related to supply and demand of resources like coal & oil. Our dependency for carbon fuels maintains demand for ever-shrinking resources that need to be discovered and refined to create energy. With renewable energy, costs are related to the systems & infrastructure instead of fuel. Renewable energy systems capture energy from the environment throughout their operating lifetime.  This is the fundamental difference compared to fossil fuels.

Members of modern society pay taxes & fees to cover physical and liquid waste. It is high time we start addressing what we burn into the air. Most Carbon Tax supporters believe the climate is changing as a result of civilization’s carbon dioxide emissions proven by sound scientific facts. Carbon Tax addresses a problem that many conservatives deny exist. In the United States, the Carbon Tax is anti-Tea Party, and most Carbon Tax supporters are happy with that fact. Right wing policies & opinions on various science issues demonstrate either they do not get it, or don’t want to admit it


Category of the action

Mitigation - Helping U.S. enact carbon price legislation


What actions do you propose?

Please take a quick survey on this topic.

Massachusetts is already considered the most energy efficient state in the union and has successful programs that reduce carbon dioxide emissions, like MassSave and the Renewable Energy Trust Fund, which improves the energy efficiency of households and businesses.

Identify carbon tax political supporters at the state level and collaborate on a cost benefit analysis of a carbon tax.  Analysis would include:

What would be the amount of the carbon tax (estimated between $15 and $25 per ton of Carbon Dioxide)?

Organize workshops to help understand the issues that need to be addressed at the state level to get State teams and politicians together to collaborate and compare notes.

Money could also be used to fund research into alternative energy approaches, including Thorium and Hydrogen Fusion.  Thorium has been discussed for cars in the media, but imagine a home furnace that needs fuel every 10 or 20 years, generating not only heat but electricity.  Large-scale hydrogen fusion reactors create power on demand, even at night or without wind to counterbalance renewable energy supplies.  Fossil fuel plants could be phased out.

The goal is to support state representatives in helping formulate an appropriate Carbon Tax and that can be passed in one or more states.


Who will take these actions?

Action has already been taken within various statehouses, and support should be provided to move legislation forward.  The emphasis is that increased energy efficiency creates economic advantages superior to fuel taxation.

There is already progress in support of Carbon Tax legislation in some states. In the state of Massachusetts, there is bill H.2532 that has been co-sponsored by many State Representatives and Senators and are in support of this broad tax.

In California, State Senator Darrel Steinberg has proposed Carbon Tax legislation.

Oregon State has completed an extensive examination of a Carbon Tax impact on their state’s economy.

Within New York State, Officers of the Carbon Tax Center has outlined a $20/ton state carbon tax.

Ideally, one Institution from the usual suspects of Colleges and Universities should be convinced to host a workshop that includes politicians and focuses on Carbon Tax efforts.  Gathering politicians and advocates to compare notes and discuss the pragmatic approaches to developing a Carbon Tax would help build a common consensus.


Where will these actions be taken?

Since the focus is on the state level, this moves the location of action away from Washington and to various state capitals.

A national Carbon Tax would be an ideal approach, but one or more states need to demonstrate its effectiveness to create a regional competitive advantage. Based on our current political climate, it would make sense to focus on support in a few strategic and progressively leaning states.

New England has been importing energy for over 150 years; can our region continue to outsource its energy needs? Like our water supply, energy is best sourced locally instead of imported.  Cheap natural gas can fade into history when competing against long-term LNG export contracts for Europe or Asia.  New England’s natural gas supply has always been at the small end of a very long and large straw.


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

More than a "Revenue Neural" Carbon tax since investments in conservation and renewable energy will compound changes in pricing. Historic market trends show that increasing the cost of fuels have limited impact on reducing consumption.

Creating a revenue-neutral Carbon Tax can create an undue burden on government income since the shift in revenue would be to a declining revenue stream.  Historical trends already demonstrate we are on a downward trend in C02 emissions. Shrinking the size of government should not be part of this debate.

It will take a significant scale in the change of capital investments from a Carbon Tax to break civilization away from the grasp of the carbon fuel colossus that powers our civilization and poisons our planet. It is top dog in our modern times and its fall will be tragic for some, joyous for others.  The Carbon Tax can make sure it does not take down our civilization with it.


What are other key benefits?

Key benefits for this Carbon Tax include:

 


What are the proposal’s costs?

Americans like to compete on a level playing field.  Proponents of the Carbon Tax believe that the historical trend of externalizing the cost for fossil fuel pollution has resulted in artificially reduced energy costs, while the impact of their use has been burdened on other parts of society.  

Part of the funding program will need to compensate the impact on lower income families.

The funding of conservation programs and deployment of alternative energy systems would reduce fossil fuel use.  The savings would offset the cost of the carbon tax over time.

To address the replacement of carbon fuels, it is critical to invest in alternative energy research like hydrogen fusion. Funding at the national level has declined for decades.

At the federal level, one study estimated that a tax rate of $20 per metric ton of CO2 would generate approximately $88 billion in 2012, rising to $144 billion by 2020.

A $25 dollar/ton carbon tax would impact the price of gasoline $0.25/gallon, well below market price changes since 2000, when the price of gasoline was around $2/gallon. The federal gasoline tax has not changed since 1993. The $25/ton tax on Natural Gas would be about $1.00 per MCF. This is a noticeable jump in price, but well within market changes in the past few years. $25/ton Carbon Tax increases the cost of coal about $40 per short ton, almost doubling current market prices

While there is debate on applying the tax for wood or wood by-products (i.e., pellets), Not applying the cost for these fuels may cause an economic unbalance that could lead to increased deforestation in the search of cheap fuels.


Time line

Key to this strategy is the acknowledgement of the political struggle to raise taxes of any type at the national level.  A national Carbon Tax would be an ideal approach, but unobtainable considering the lack of any consensus in Congress. At least one state needs to demonstrate its effectiveness.  Long term savings from reduced energy spending becomes a competitive advantage in the global market where fuels are shipped to the highest bidder. Politicians can voice support for a Carbon Tax, and a possible approach to achieve a Carbon Tax is to initiate a state referendum, possibly in time for the 2016 election. 

A potential state referendum would not just be a regulatory act, but needs to be a platform to explain how a carbon tax can help address the environmental damage of civilization on our planet.  There is no way a Carbon Tax would pass in a red state, but it would more likely pass in some blue states and demonstrates how state-level action becomes the incubator of our democracy. The Carbon Tax could be a rallying cry for progressive activists in the 2016 election.

Massachusetts is already the most energy efficient state in the union. New England has been importing energy for over 150 years; can our region continue to outsource its energy needs? Like our water supply, energy is best sourced locally instead of imported. Renewable energy is locally sourced. Cheap natural gas can fade into history when competing against long-term contracts for LNG export to Europe or Asia.  There are also many who are concerned on how fracking impacts the water tables around gas wells since many are located in watersheds for cities and towns.  How will the natural gas prices be affected if gas wells are shut down because of the impact to local well water?


Related proposals

A carbon tax was proposed in Massachusetts. House Bill H.2532 proposes a carbon tax, with 90% of the initial $100M funds are earmarked for transportation.  This cap rises by 1% + inflation.  Why should a tax covering natural gas, home heating oil and coal fund transpotation?

The Carbon tax in British Columbia, Canada has proven very popular and effective.

The Brooking’s Institute released an excellent whitepaper in November, 2012 proposing a Federal Carbon Tax.  This proposal refers to the MIT Joint Program on Climate Change report dated August, 2012 which proposed a $20/ton Carbon tax.

An alternative paper was published by the Breakthrough Institute in September, 2012 compares carbon taxing to energy subsidies. They argue that eliminating current zero-carbon energy incentives would reduce renewable deployments by 50-80 percent.

At the national level a draft Carbon Tax bill was published in March, 2013 and sponsored by 3 Senators & 1 Representative, though little progress has been made.


References

Here is British Columbia’s Ministry of Finance statement on Carbon Tax, implemented on 7/1/2008. The Carbon Tax in British Columbia, Canada has 65% approval and has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 19% compared to the rest of Canada. Their economic activity is also higher than other Providences.

An excellent Analysis on the impact of a Carbon Tax on Massachusetts was completed by REMI (Regional Economic Models, Inc.).  Links to their Presentation and Whitepaper are here.

We could also learn more from countries like Germany in their renewable energy investments.  Their early investments in renewable energy are paying off with the increasing prices of fossil fuel.

Skeptical Science’s has a report on 5 year Carbon Tax impact.

There is a great reference page at the Carbon Tax Center that should not be missed and includes links to various organizations (why duplicate their excellent work?)

Resources for the Future also has excellent material on Carbon Pricing on their web site at: http://bit.ly/P9hAQQ

The Congressional Research Service completed a report “Carbon Tax: Deficit Reduction and Other Considerations” in September of 2012.

The Report by the National Association of Manufacturers states: “any revenue raised by the carbon tax would be far outweighed by the negative impact to the overall economy.”  This is shortsighted. The report does not take into account how the revenue from a Carbon Tax would be spent, or the economic costs in the ongoing use of carbon fuels.  Their reports identify Carbon Tax costs, but assume the only reduction in Carbon Fuel use would be from increased costs.  By funding conservation and renewable energy programs for businesses of all sizes, the tax would have a positive impact over time since less carbon fuels would be required by business and industry for the same results.

The National Bureau of Economic Resources has an extensive list of reports regarding carbon taxes.  Some include: