Finally, a candidate for president has come out in support of a carbon tax!

OK, it was Chris Dodd, but still.

Dodd’s big energy speech this morning was mostly the usual stuff about tax credits and subsidies, but here’s the section that produced the headline:

The truth is, we can make all the clean energy investments in the world, but we will never be able to rid ourselves of fossil fuel energy sources when they remain the cheapest option.

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It’s true that some corporations have at last begun to clean up their act — some because they want to stay competitive, others because they want to be better stewards of our environment. Indeed, I was an early supporter of the toughest “cap and trade” bill ever introduced in the United States Congress because I believe capping carbon emissions is a critical step in the right direction.

But we all know no matter how tough the rules, some big polluting companies will always be able to buy their way out from under them.

That is why, as president, I will not only expand cap and trade, I will go further — I will enact a Corporate Carbon Tax.

You cannot be serious about acting on the urgent threat of global warming, about making us less captive to Middle East Oil, or investing in renewable energy, unless you have a Corporate Carbon Tax that eliminates the last incentive there is to pollute — that it’s cheaper.

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An America that taxes the big polluters will have less pollution, more innovation and more freedom. It’s that simple.

In a Dodd Administration, every penny of Corporate Carbon Tax revenues — over $50 billion annually — will help us solve our energy problems, funding renewable energy research and development and the safe disposal of nuclear waste. Just as importantly, it will help us bring new technologies to market — from lighting to appliances to automobiles — and deploy them as quickly as possible.

He told the AP:

You have to have a price-driven strategy if you are going to succeed in this thing. Otherwise, I’m afraid it’s just a lot of talk. People are trying to avoid the difficult decisions.

So, not only a carbon tax, but a carbon tax with none of the revenue refunded directly to consumers. I guess that tells you pretty much all you need to know about Dodd’s chances in the race.

Nonetheless, huge kudos to him for moving the Overton window.

Dodd also said he’d raise fuel-economy standards to 50mpg (though he didn’t mention a time frame) and offer rebates to consumers who want to buy hybrids.

And finally, perhaps because being a dad has made me a big ol’ softie, I found this bit strangely affecting:

For me this is personal. My daughter, Grace, was born two days after the September 11th attacks – from the hospital window, we could see the smoke rising from the Pentagon.

Recently, as Grace was getting ready for school one morning, she looked up at me and said, “I wonder what my day is going to be like.”

A moment later, she looked up again and said: “I wonder what my life is going to be like.” She had just turned 5.

My daughter reminds me that we have but one brief moment to get this right.

You and I are going to be judged, and very quickly, by a jury that’s coming along.


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