clear
Wednesday December 12th, 2018 7:30AM

Carbon tax gets renewed attention but still faces resistance

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Advocates of taxing fossil fuels believe their position is stronger now because of an alarming new report on climate change and a Nobel Prize awarded to by two American economists, but neither development is likely to break down political resistance to a carbon tax.

Previous alarms about global warming met with resistance from Congress and the White House. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement on climate change last year.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a panel of scientists brought together by the United Nations, warned in a report Monday that droughts, wildfires, coral reef destruction and other climate and environmental disasters could grow worse as soon as 2040, even with a smaller increase in temperatures than used to set the Paris targets.

A few hours later, the Nobel Prize in economics went to two Americans, including William Nordhaus of Yale University, who argues that carbon taxes would be the best way to address problems created by greenhouse-gas emissions.

A carbon tax is a charge imposed on the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, which produce carbon dioxide. The tax is designed to make users of those fuels pay for the environmental damage they cause. The ultimate goal of some tax backers is to price fossil fuels out of the market and replace them with sources of energy that produce little or no heat-trapping emissions.

Coal and oil and gas companies could pass the tax cost along to consumers, which would presumably give a price advantage to energy that is not taxed. That, advocates say, would help renewables such as solar and wind grow more quickly from their current single-digit share of the U.S. electricity market.

There is, of course, stark disagreement over the economic effect of a carbon tax.

Researchers at Columbia University estimate that a tax of $50 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions would increase average U.S. consumer electricity bills 22 percent by 2030, with amounts varying by region. A Tufts University authority estimates that it would add 45 cents a gallon to the price of gasoline. Both think the impact can be mitigated by distributing the money raised through taxes to households, and that many low- and medium-income families would come out ahead.

Opponents argue that a carbon tax would kill manufacturing jobs and hurt family income.

A 2014 report by the Heritage Foundation said that a tax of $37 a ton would cut economic output more than $2.5 trillion, or $21,000 per family, by 2030. This year, two dozen conservative groups endorsed an estimate that a carbon tax would cost more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs by 2030.

Noah Kaufman, an energy-policy researcher at Columbia and a proponent of carbon taxes, said the terrifying prognosis in Monday's report should highlight the central role of a carbon tax in addressing climate change. But, he acknowledged, such warnings are not new, and political opposition to a tax remains strong.

"There are really high political barriers that continue to stand in our way," he said. "By far the biggest obstacle in the United States right now is the leadership of the Republican party, which is dead-set against any strong climate-change policy."

In July, the GOP-controlled House voted for a resolution rejecting carbon taxes as detrimental to the U.S. economy. Almost all Republicans, joined by a few Democrats, voted for the symbolic measure.

Prominent opponents of the carbon tax also believe that urgency over addressing climate change is exaggerated. They point out that U.S. carbon emissions have fallen in recent years as abundant natural gas has risen to rival coal in electric generation. Meanwhile, China's emissions grow rapidly, making it the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The scientists who prepared the UN-backed report "are trying to convince us all that there is an imminent crisis when in fact there is a potential long-term problem," said Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who worked on the Trump transition. Carbon taxes, he added, "are political poison once people figure out how much their energy bills are going to go up."

There are signs that the political ground could shift.

— A group of former Republican officials and big corporations plan to lobby for a tax of $40 per ton of carbon dioxide produced and to give the money to U.S. taxpayers. Oil giants Exxon Mobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell support the plan, which also would protect them from lawsuits blaming them for climate change.

— A Republican congressman, Carlos Curbelo of Florida, bucked party leadership this summer by proposing a carbon tax.

— Voters in Washington state will decide next month whether to adopt a carbon fee.

"I am optimistic that the (UN-backed) report will make a difference, but I just think we're going to have to get a little distance from where we are right now in the politics," said Gilbert Metcalf, an economist at Tufts University and author of an upcoming book advocating a carbon tax. "It's going to take a longer time, a few years."

Nordhaus, the freshly minted Nobel winner, was also looking beyond the current political leadership in Washington, D.C. He said that outside the United States there is wide acceptance of the science and economics of climate change.

"This administration won't last forever," Nordhaus said at a news conference. "All I can do is hope that we will get through this without too much damage."

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, another group that lobbied against carbon taxes, said Nordhaus ignored science and history in advocating a carbon tax.

"He should look at the history of the last 20 years and see that the United States has been reducing carbon emissions without a carbon tax," Norquist said.

___

Susan Haigh in New Haven, Connecticut, contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Spurs setback: Point guard Dejounte Murray lost to torn ACL
The San Antonio Spurs have lost point guard Dejounte Murray to a torn ACL
6:34PM ( 10 minutes ago )
California homeowners: Wildfire cleanup made matters worse
One year after wildfires devastated Northern California's wine country and destroyed thousands of homes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' first experience cleaning up after a wildfire has turned into an expensive bureaucratic mess.
6:25PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Moreland out for Red Sox, Hicks for Yanks in Game 3 of ALDS
Boston Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland is out of the lineup for Game 3 of the AL Division Series against the New York Yankees
6:05PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: No apparent skid marks after fatal limo crash
The National Transportation Safety Board says there were no apparent skid marks before a limousine barreled through an intersection and crashed into a parked car, killing 20 people
5:40PM ( 1 hour ago )
Mayor's spokesman: Trump 'clueless,' wrong on stop-and-frisk
A spokesman for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called President Donald Trump "clueless" for reviving criticism of Chicago and encouraging more stop-and-frisks by police
5:35PM ( 1 hour ago )
Report: UK poison suspect is doctor for Russian intelligence
The investigative group Bellingcat is reporting that one of the two suspects in the poisoning of an ex-spy in England is a doctor who works for Russian military intelligence
5:32PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Kavanaugh to attend White House event, as elections loom
New Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is returning to the White House for a televised appearance with President Donald Trump less than a month before pivotal congressional elections
4:12PM ( 2 hours ago )
2 Americans win econ Nobel for work on climate and growth
2 Americans win Nobel economics prize for work on climate change and innovation
4:03PM ( 2 hours ago )
Russia dismisses suspected spy actions as routine Dutch trip
Russia's foreign minister has dismissed accusations made in the Netherlands against suspected Russian spies, saying they were intended to distract public attention from stark divisions between Western nations
3:52PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Box office top 20: 'Venom,' 'A Star Is Born'
Sony Pictures' "Spider-Man" spinoff "Venom" and Bradley Cooper's acclaimed remake "A Star Is Born" fueled the best-ever October weekend at North American theaters
5:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
Stock indexes end mixed, but tech companies slide further
U.S. stocks finish mixed following sharp losses early in the day, but technology companies continue to fall
5:11PM ( 1 hour ago )
Governor candidates spar on vision for California
The two men hoping to be California's next governor said during a debate that the cost of living is the top issue facing the state
3:46PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Technology stock losses mount as US indexes fall further
U.S. stocks continue to fall as technology companies drop again, while European stocks are taking sharp losses after the Italian government said it will press ahead with its new spending plans
2:26PM ( 4 hours ago )
Technology stocks drag US indexes lower; Italy also falls
U.S. stocks continue to fall as technology companies again, while European stocks are taking sharp losses after the Italian government said it will press ahead with its new spending plans
11:55AM ( 6 hours ago )
AA aims to avoid putting delayed travelers on other airlines
A new policy at American Airlines could leave more coach passengers stranded after delays or canceled flights
10:41AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
France, Italy begin cleanup for Mediterranean fuel spill
French and Italian maritime experts are cleaning up a fuel spill that has spread across 20 kilometers of the Mediterranean Sea north of Corsica after two cargo ships collided
8:18AM ( 10 hours ago )
Global stocks weighed down by China economy fears
Global stock markets lower after China cuts bank reserve requirement
7:56AM ( 10 hours ago )
Thousands protest felling German forest to expand coal mine
Thousands of environmentalists are protesting the expansion of a coal mine in western Germany a day after a court blocked the felling of an endangered forest near the site
9:24AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Industries
Rising interest rates send stocks skidding; tech plunges
Global stock indexes fall as interest rates rise, and the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note continues to climb after reaching its highest level in seven years
5:28PM ( 4 days ago )
No free lunch for renewables: More wind power would warm US
A new study out of Harvard finds that ramping up wind power in America would also dial up the nation's temperatures
5:25PM ( 4 days ago )
Rescuers detect possible sign of life under quake-hit hotel
A French rescue team says it has detected a possible sign of life under the rubble of a hotel in Indonesia's central Sulawesi, nearly a week after it was hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami
3:35PM ( 4 days ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Spurs setback: Point guard Dejounte Murray lost to torn ACL
The San Antonio Spurs have lost point guard Dejounte Murray to a torn ACL
6:34PM ( 10 minutes ago )
California homeowners: Wildfire cleanup made matters worse
One year after wildfires devastated Northern California's wine country and destroyed thousands of homes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' first experience cleaning up after a wildfire has turned into an expensive bureaucratic mess.
6:25PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Brazil leans toward unsparing vision of far-right Bolsonaro
The man who looks likely to become Brazil's next president promised nothing short of a complete overhaul of Latin America's largest nation
6:16PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Moreland out for Red Sox, Hicks for Yanks in Game 3 of ALDS
Boston Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland is out of the lineup for Game 3 of the AL Division Series against the New York Yankees
6:05PM ( 39 minutes ago )
Trump says he likes Swift's music less post-endorsement
President Donald Trump says he likes superstar Taylor Swift's music "about 25 percent less now" that she's endorsed two Democratic candidates in Tennessee
5:56PM ( 48 minutes ago )