Politics

Carney rejects carbon tax proposal

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

White House spokesman Jay Carney Jan. 23 deflated environmentalists’ hope of a major federal program to counter climate change, by declaring that the “we have no intention of proposing a carbon tax.”

Carney’s statement is a letdown for progressive climate-control advocates, who say the federal government has the regulatory and taxing power to try to affect the globe’s temperature by curbing the release of carbon dioxide from cars, houses, factories, power plants.

On Jan 9, Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Saunders introduced a bill that would levy a tax on companies that generate carbon dioxide. The bill is unlikely to pass, partly because economists argue it would further burden the nation’s slow growing economy.

Skeptics say human produced carbon dioxide plays a subordinate role in global climate, but the climate control activists say unregulated carbon dioxide is decisively increasing the world’s temperature by trapping more solar heat in the world’s atmosphere.

These groups’ hopes were spiked by President Barack Obama’s Jan. 21 inaugural speech.

“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he claimed. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms,” he claimed.

The climate control language in the speech surprised and pleased climate activists, who felt their issue was being downplayed during the 2012 election.

In the days since the speech, administration officials have downplayed Obama’s inauguration statement and the chances of a major government initiative.

“I think the President has long supported congressional action on climate change,” Carney said Jan. 22. But “he looks at [climate control] in a more holistic way, and he will move forward in implementing some of the [regulatory and spending] actions that he took in the first term,” he said.

But Obama also suggested that he would limit his climate control priorities to those that might help the economy, which has created relatively few jobs since his first inauguration in 2009, despite deficit spending of almost $6 trillion.

“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult … We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise,” Obama said, shortly after saying inaction would “betray our children and future generations,”