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Carbon, carbon everywhere; nor any tax to levy

Let's face it, the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis is a politician's wet dream. An existential threat to humanity, invisible and insidious, whose computer-predicted effects won't be validated or rejected until long after today's most junior Senator has left office decades from now. It is a crisis which can only be averted through massive and sustained government mandate and there are legions of true believers chomping at the bit to castigate and slander anyone who dares question AGW dogma. Honestly, who could possibly be against saving the planet?

It's a blank check sitting politicians can safely write knowing it won't be cashed until they're long gone.

Even though many politicians now accept the catastrophic climate change hypothesis, most Americans are reluctant to accept the higher taxes and energy costs required to "fight" global warming. To avoid transparency and shift blame from themselves to energy producers most politicians favor a "cap and trade" approach. Under this regimen the government tells each company how much carbon dioxide they will be allowed to emit and if the company exceeds that arbitrary limit it is required to buy carbon "credits". This approach to battling the phantom menace of global warming has been implemented in the EU and has thus far proven to be ineffective at reducing CO2 emissions.

But it has proven quite effective at filling government coffers and transferring money from carbon-intensive industries to the favored "green" sectors of the economy.

Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson is having none of it. He demands transparency from Washington:

Tillerson said a carbon tax "is the most efficient means of reflecting the cost of carbon in all economic decisions"--from company investments to consumer's choices about fuel and other products.

He said the tax should be "revenue neutral" -- meaning the government would reduce revenues from other sources if it added a carbon tax.

Thank you, Rex, for this shot across the bow. Eschewing a convoluted trading scheme or carbon credit auction for a direct tax on carbon puts Congress' butts on the line, right now. No finger pointing, no obfuscating - each American will be able to see clearly how much the fight against global warming costs every time they fill up and pay their electric bill.

Revenue neutrality is icing on the cake. Since the push (putsch?) to reduce CO2 emissions is cloaked in rhetoric about saving the planet why let increased government revenue ruin the altruism?

Tillerson says he favors a tax on carbon dioxide over a cap-and-trade system because it would be "a more direct and transparent approach."
Democrats in Congress and President-elect Barack Obama have been leaning toward cap-and-trade legislation, which would set a limit on the amount of carbon dioxide large operations like power plants could emit each year and reduce the limit over time, forcing companies to buy more permits or clean up emissions.
But direct and transparent eliminates opportunities for lobbyists to reward Washington with campaign cash and exposes Congress to the voters' wrath after prices skyrocket. We can safely assume the direct and transparent carbon tax will get about as fair a hearing from the Democrats as one of Bush's judicial nominees.

Frankly, hearing the CEO of Exxon Mobil say he prefers a carbon tax to cap and trade is like hearing a death row inmate saying he prefers lethal injection to stoning. Let's hope this is just a calculated gamble on his part. Americans won't stand for a carbon tax, but might be hoodwinked into accepting an innocuous sounding boondoggle like "cap and trade". If conservatives are going to accept the inevitability of legislation to combat climate change we need to lobby for the transparent (and reversible) carbon tax. Because once a carbon trading bureaucracy and infrastructure is created we will be stuck with it forever.


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Comments (11)

I believe that is his strat... (Below threshold)

I believe that is his strategy. If liberals and misguided Republicans want to put their name stupid tax legislation, let them.
And, if you still think Global Warming is man made, this should wash the mush from your head.


We, the consumer are going ... (Below threshold)

We, the consumer are going to end up paying the piper for all this politically correct bullshit that has only one goal. More do-gooders having control over our lives.

Eighty inches of snow the l... (Below threshold)

Eighty inches of snow the last two weeks here.

Damn global warming is killing us.

"Eighty inches of snow the ... (Below threshold)

"Eighty inches of snow the last two weeks here."

Unfortunately, extreme weather (either warm or cold) tends to keep people indoors, which of course means that they use more electricity. So "global warming" or not, get ready for the cha-ching of any carbon-based tax scheme.

We should also be wary of Barack Obama's stated plans to drastically increase the number of electric vehicles during his term as President. More electric cars also means a much greater drain in the electric grid, as they have to be plugged in in order to recharge.

That being said, I agree in principle with Rex Tillerson's ideas for revenue transparency, but I am leery about any kind of carbon emissions tax -- especially since there seems to be a big push in the works to use even more electricity in the near future.

On the other hand, if the tax is based on CO2 emissions rather than on consumption of carbon based fuels, then such a tax might be effective in getting electricity providers to switch to cleaner burning energy or to non-carbon (e.g. nuclear) sources of energy to convert to electricity.

Carbon trading is also a me... (Below threshold)

Carbon trading is also a means for people like Al Gore to become billionaires by creating a market for a 'commodity' that nobody in their right minds would buy.

It's like creating a trading system for beaver dung. Only those interested in using beaver dung would want it, and certainly not invest in trading it. But behold! Have a politically-connected group get the government to become interested in beaver dung, and suddenly beaver dung trading companies appear. Of course the same groups that alerted the government to the seriousness of regulating beaver dung just happen to be 'experts' in the supply of it.

Carbon trading is beaver dung. It just smells a lot worse.

Oda,It must be exc... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:


It must be exciting to live in the one place in all the world that precisely replicates the mean temperature worldwide.

Dave:...but it's rea... (Below threshold)

...but it's really funny how a worldwide drop in average temperature for 2007 (and, overall, for a whole decade) is to be completely discarded after 25 years or so of stories screaming "IT'S HOT IN CLEVELAND TODAY! GLOBAL WARMING! OH NOES!"

No shithead, the point is m... (Below threshold)

No shithead, the point is my hometown is known for it's moderate climate even though it's located in the northern Rockies. It's snowed more here in the last two years than in the previous 30, total. The mean winter temperature (Nov thru March) trend closely coincides with the increase in snowfall.

Just bad luck I suppose.

Now go back to toking on the Obamassiah hookah and study that hockey stick graph a little more.

Next major tax will be to b... (Below threshold)

Next major tax will be to buy warm clothes and burn more carbon fuel. Pravda (Russian news for the college grads) says the next ice age is peeking around the corner. Based on this winter in the south I might just agree with Pravda for the first time.

As usual politicians are tr... (Below threshold)

As usual politicians are trying to regulate everyone but themselves and they are using America's apathy to do it. People just don't have the attention spans to care. As long as they use official sounding words most people will just assume that what they are doing is the right thing to do. No one has any idea what "cap and trade" is. Now they can claim they are doing something to combat global warming while taking in money from these comapanies and using it to buy another mansion.

How about a methane tax...m... (Below threshold)

How about a methane tax...methane is more dangerous than CO2 and it's emitted in enormous quantities by trees.

How about an entropy tax. Eventually the universe will grind to a halt as a result of the entropy you generate every time you...DO ANYTHING! An entropy tax would be the best way to tax the citizens of the world into submission.







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