I've written here on the stance by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell in support of a carbon tax. Simply put, a carbon tax is probably the simplest way to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and gasoline, while improving automobile fuel economy, if those are your goals. Today Dingell pens a piece in the Washington Post in defense of his stance -- and he takes a swipe at both Ted Kennedy and all Republicans in doing so:
Each source of energy faces obstacles. For example, wind and nuclear power present "not in my back yard" challenges, as we're seeing with efforts to install a wind farm off Cape Cod, Mass., while ethanol plants are welcomed with generous subsidies in the Farm Belt. Some raise issues regarding land use. All are more expensive to produce than the energy we currently use...
A carbon tax or fee has been endorsed by President Bush's former chief economic adviser, Greg Mankiw; Nobel Prize-winning conservative economist Gary Becker; the chief executive of the largest U.S. auto-dealer chain, Mike Jackson; and several environmental organizations. From Alan Greenspan to Greenpeace, many recognize its utility.
There may be disagreements as to the proper level or the best use of revenue. The United Mine Workers support a fuel-based fee that would fund carbon sequestration. Others have suggested using the revenue to reduce Social Security taxes. Congress must hash out the details.
History shows that we respond to market forces. Between 1980 and 1981, the fuel economy of the vehicles Americans purchased increased 16 percent. That wasn't because of a technological breakthrough or a regulatory requirement. It was because the price of gas had risen to the point where consumers made fuel economy a priority. Market forces and mechanisms proved far more powerful than mandates.
I don't expect to overcome ideological Republican opposition to all forms of taxation, but if CEOs, economists, environmentalists and citizens speak out, we could effect real change. I don't pretend to speak for my party on this; I'm trying to speak to common sense and experience...
Speaker Pelosi will apparently kick the can down the road on this issue, leaving resolution of the carbon tax vs. fuel economy question to address in a conference committee.
Just to clarify, the link to the Globe piece on Kennedy's hypocritical opposition to a Cape Cod wind farm was not inserted by the Post; that was my doing. Nevertheless, the gratuitous insertion of the reference had to be intended as a shot at Kennedy. It's a clear sign that Dingell takes this pretty seriously, and is willing to break some furniture if that's what it takes to win this fight.