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Obama Energy nominee: Triple price of carbon to push clean energy

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Energy Department said the U.S. should put a price on carbon dioxide emissions to push more clean=energy use in the country.

The Washington Examiner reported that MIT professor Ernest Moniz said putting a price on carbon would be necessary to double or even triple the price of carbon, which would push the U.S. to use more clean energy technologies and increase energy security.

“Ultimately, it has to be cheaper to capture and store it than to release it and pay a price,” Moniz told the Switch Energy Project last year. “If we start really squeezing down on carbon dioxide over the next few decades, well, that could double; it could eventually triple.”

“I think inevitably if we squeeze down on carbon, we squeeze up on the cost, it brings along with it a push toward efficiency; it brings along with it a push towards clean technologies in a conventional pollution sense; it brings along with it a push towards security,” Moniz added. “Because after all, the security issues revolve around carbon bearing fuels.”

Moniz said that it will never be cheaper to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions — a greenhouse gas linked to global warming — than it is to simply release it into the atmosphere. A carbon price, or tax, could be used to make emitting CO2 costlier than storing it, which could help curb climate change.

However, Moniz acknowledged that such a strategy was costly and would disproportionately affect the poor.

“I think it’s very important that any funds associated with that be recycled efficiently to productive uses and to address distributional questions, because some — the poor — may get hit harder than others,” he said. “So, it’s a lot of work to do there. But I think, in the end, if you take one simple thing, that’s the direction that I think we should go in.”

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