Should the Republican carbon tax bill be taken seriously?
Well look at this! Just as a compromise was announced on the Waxman-Markey bill and it looks set to move out of committee, along come a couple of Republicans with a carbon tax bill (Bob Inglis [SC] and Jeff Flake [Ariz], co-sponsored by Dem Dan Lipinski of Illinois — none of whom are on the House Energy Committee).
I’ve had people ask me whether this is a good-faith effort, whether Dems might be wise to “call their bluff” and support the bill.
Um. No. And No.
This bit right here should tell you all you need to know about a) the bill’s chances of passing, and b) the sponsor’s effort to garner support for it:
The impact of such a direct carbon tax, however, would vary widely in different regions of the country.
Businesses and homeowners who rely heavily on coal for electric power — such as those in Kentucky and Missouri — would face significantly steeper price increases because coal produces much more carbon dioxide.
Such disparities, Flake said, would be an unavoidable outcome of trying to reduce global warming and wean the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, some of it from unfriendly governments.
“There’s no way you can compensate or have a perfect outcome in which everyone pays the same rates,” Flake said. “If you try to do that, then you take away the incentive to change.”
Of course, there are ways to help the people and industries likely to be hardest hit. Waxman-Markey contains some. And of course it’s perfectly possible to offset some of the impact while preserving “incentive to change.”
But why bother engaging with this substantively? It’s not a substantive proposal. It’s got no chance in hell of going anywhere. It’s meant to confuse, divide, and derail.
If Republicans were serious about pricing carbon — the core of any long-term climate strategy — they’d say, “we’d prefer to do it this way, but we’ll work with you to tweak your bill. We can find a compromise.” But they don’t. They say, we want this exact thing with these exact features, and if you don’t support us we’ll walk. Watch: whatever bill makes it to the floor will get not a single Republican vote. Mark my words.
It’s not serious, and it’s not worth wasting time on.