LA Times Loves The Notion Of A Carbon Tax On Other Companies

Democrats, and some squishy Progressive Republicans, keep trying to make a carbon tax happen. Funny that they never include themselves in the plan

A carbon tax is a good idea — so long as it doesn’t come with industry handouts

Exxon Mobil made a bit of a splash Tuesday when it announced a $1-million, two-year donation to the Republican-led Americans for Carbon Dividends, an organization pushing for a national tax to help curtail emissions of atmosphere-warming carbon. A carbon tax is aimed at making the burning of fossil fuels — which releases carbon — more expensive, and thus directing consumer behavior away from carbon-spewing energy and driving investment toward carbon-free alternatives. It’s a sound approach, one this page endorsed more than a decade ago, and better than the related cap-and-trade plans, which California has used since 2012.

But the plan that Exxon Mobil is throwing its money at — pocket change, really, for a corporation that made nearly $20 billion last year — is less than it seems. Called the Baker-Schultz plan after two of its authors, former Republican secretaries of State James A. Baker III and George P. Schultz, the plan calls for gradually increasing the per-ton carbon tax to reduce the risk of market shock, and for returning the proceeds to consumers on a per-capita basis through the Social Security Administration. Everyone gets the same amount of cash, but those who use less carbon-emitting energy will pay less tax — giving them a powerful incentive to conserve. So far, all good. And a set rate helps companies better anticipate their costs; businesses like stability and predictability.

But there’s always a but, it seems. The Baker-Schultz plan also includes a waiver that would let oil companies and other emitters off the hook for past acts contributing to global warming, preempting the many lawsuitsfiled against them. And it would undo the Clean Power Plan and other federal regulations covering carbon dioxide emissions. That makes this sound less like a smart plan to reduce carbon than a toxic quid pro quo — “OK, we’ll go for a carbon tax if these lawsuits go away and we get sharper deregulation.” Another plan, pushed by the Citizens Climate Lobby and other groups, would similarly escalate the per-ton tax over time and return the proceeds in a per-capita dividend, without the corporate giveaways. That’s a better option.

Both plans stink, because you’re taxing something that hasn’t been proved scientifically to be causing an actual problem. Unless you consider sociology and political science “science.” Further, that last plan would see the government to refund 4/5ths of the money to the consumer to cover the cost of living increase, with an acknowledgement that the money refunded still wouldn’t cover the cost of living increases to citizens.

Whatever approach might ultimately gain traction, it will be a useless gesture unless the tax is sufficiently high to compel changes in producer and consumer behavior. How much is too little? How much is too much? We’re not going to pretend we know — there are experts who can make that calculation. But this is an area in which compromise isn’t much of an option. As the recent Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change warned, without near-immediate and drastic action to curtail the rise of carbon and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mankind faces a dire environmental future. Rising seas, more severe weather patterns — a lesson just reinforced by Hurricane Michael — deep agricultural impacts and worse droughts and flooding.

Funny how this debate always seems to come down to elitists wanting government to force people to comply with beliefs. About increasing the power of government over citizens, private entities, and economies.

But, if the LA Times editorial board is upset about the use of fossil fuels – as they put it in paragraph one “A carbon tax is aimed at making the burning of fossil fuels — which releases carbon — more expensive, and thus directing consumer behavior away from carbon-spewing energy” – then the carbon tax should apply to news gathering organizations, especially newspaper. They use vast amounts of fossil fuels to go out and gather the news, anywhere from local to around the world. They use vast amounts of energy to broadcast the news, often from fossil fueled sources. And newspapers, like the LA Times, are the worst, as they kill lots of carbon pollution sucking trees to produce their newspapers for distribution, and use vast amounts of fossil fuels to distribute said papers. So, let’s include the news industry in the list of which companies get taxed.

I bet the news organizations will flip a lid if they were included. Because Warmists always Someone Else to pay the price for their beliefs. Never themselves.

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