Al Gore says now is the time for a carbon tax

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Former Vice President Al Gore published a blog post on his website entitled “‘The time has come’ for a carbon tax,” which includes excerpts from an editorial from the Financial Times which endorses a carbon tax.

“Taxes are always a regrettable necessity, but some are less regrettable than others,” the FT editorial reads. “A tax that strengthens energy security and cuts pollution, while minimising the damage done to employment and investment, is one of the least regrettable of all.”

“Yet a carbon tax, which has all those characteristics, is struggling to find support from the US administration or in Congress,” the editorial continues. “It deserves much wider enthusiasm.”

President Obama has made addressing climate change a top priority for his second term, promising to use his executive authority to act on the issue if Congress failed to pass act on it first. However, the administration has repeatedly said it is not planning to propose a carbon tax.

Congressional Democrats have recently been pushing legislation that would put a price on carbon dioxide emissions in order to raise revenues and address global warming.

Earlier this month, Democrats in the House and Senate released draft legislation that put a gradually increasing price on carbon emissions to reduce the use of carbon-heavy energy sources, like coal. A move which was cheered on by environmental groups.

“It rightly sets aggressive goals and builds on the progress already underway to clean up pollution from our cars, trucks and new power plants,” said Franz Matzner, associate director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Confronting climate change, though, will require the use of current authority to cut emissions, in addition to complementary measures such as those in the draft bill.”

Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer also introduced legislation to put a fee on carbon emissions which would fund green-energy projects such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.

Despite enthusiasm from Democrats, some studies have shown that the carbon tax would be detrimental to economic growth and be manipulated by the political process.

“A carbon tax can be expected to create an offsetting drag on the economy because it will make several major sources of energy more costly to use,” said Dr. Anne Smith, senior vice president and environmental group co-head at NERA Economic Consulting who conducted a study on the carbon tax on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers.

“The carbon tax is a bad idea,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, adding that a carbon tax could cause manufacturing output could fall up to 15 percent.

Another study by the Institute for Energy research said that the carbon tax would be abused in the political process and could be a “cure worse than the disease.”

“The dismal record of the U.S. government in implementing efficient climate change policies is hardly evidence in favor of a massive new carbon tax (or cap-and-trade program),” said IER senior economist and author of the study Robert Murphy. “[S]uch a new program will be abused in the political process, and will not be tailored to the recommendations of climate scientists and environmental economists.”

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