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Members of environmental associations hold signs as they gather to demand improvements in climate change and energy models, outside the European Commission headquarters during the presentation of the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy EU2030 in Brussels January 22, 2014. REUTERS/Yves Herman Members of environmental associations hold signs as they gather to demand improvements in climate change and energy models, outside the European Commission headquarters during the presentation of the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy EU2030 in Brussels January 22, 2014. REUTERS/Yves Herman  

Liberal energy CEO joins Democrats clamoring for carbon tax

Echoing remarks made by Secretary of State John Kerry, NRG Energy CEO David Crane called global warming “the single greatest issue that mankind faces.”

“As a human being, a father of five, you know, I do believe that climate change is the single greatest issue that mankind faces,” Crane, a Democratic donor, said at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit this week, reports PoliticoPro.

“But let’s not delude ourselves,” Crane added. “The power industry in America today is not solving for carbon because no one has told them to solve for carbon, and no one has put a carbon price incentive — whether it be cap-and-trade or a carbon tax — no one has put on the table. No one I know believes it’s coming anytime soon.”

Liberals have been pushing for a carbon tax for some time as a way to deal with global warming and raise funds for green energy projects. A bill introduced by California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders aimed to slap a carbon tax on fossil fuels that would have gradually increased every year. Funds raised from the tax would go towards green energy projects.

But critics argue that a carbon tax is highly regressive because it raises the cost of virtually every good in the economy, hitting the poor the hardest.

“Saying you’re for a carbon tax on energy may go over well with Hollywood swells and elites in the media and politics, but to average Americans, it’s an ignorant and callous punch in the gut.  His customers should know he wants to make their bills go up,” Dan Kish, vice president of the free-market Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that a carbon tax would raise the costs of goods to little benefit. The CBO noted, “An argument against a tax on [greenhouse gas] emissions is that curtailing U.S. emissions would burden the economy by raising the cost of producing emissions-intensive goods and services while yielding benefits for U.S. residents of an uncertain magnitude.”

Crane has been a major Democratic donor, according to federal election records. Crane gave $2,300 to the Obama campaign in 2008 and has donated thousands more to Democratic candidates since then, including $5,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2010. According to Forbes, Crane’s six-year average compensation for being CEO of NRG Energy is $5.87 million.

Crane said his company began pricing carbon for their own internal planning after President Obama was first elected in 2008, but said that they stopped pricing carbon in 2011 and 2012.

Interestingly enough, NRG Energy has been awarded billions of dollars by the Obama administration to build solar installations in the Southwestern U.S.

In April 2011, the Energy Department announced a $1.6 billion loan to Brightsource Energy and its partners, NRG Energy and Google, to build the Ivanpah solar thermal facility in Baker, California — which was recently completed.

NRG Solar — a subsidiary of NRG Energy — got two separate awards from the Energy Department totaling more than $2.2 billion for solar projects in San Luis Obispo, California and Yuma County, Arizona.

Green energy facilities, however, only make up a small share of NRG Energy’s overall portfolio. The company only makes about 2.5 percent of their electricity with non-carbon fuels, like solar, while 97.5 percent of their electricity is still made from fossil fuels.

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