Will Congress Pass Carbon Tax Legislation?

Posted by John Elder
John Elder
John Elder is aresidents of Kendal at Oberlin. John served as Pastor of the Firs
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on August 16, 2013
in Policy

It seems almost laughable to ask the question, ???Will the U.S. Congress pass carbon tax legislation????  At present, so little legislation of importance gets through both houses of Congress that the chance of the Sanders-Boxer Climate Change bills being passed seems nil.  Nevertheless, we need to pay attention to the ???Climate Protection Act??? and the ???Sustainable Energy Act??? introduced earlier this year by Senators Barbara Boxer (Dem. CA) and Bernie Sanders (Ind. VT).  In a hearing held by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week, a panel of experts explained the vital importance of taking steps now to reduce carbon emissions.  And as Al Gore writes in The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change (2013), ???Global warming pollution??? should carry a price.  Placing a tax on CO2 is the place to start.???  If this summer proves to be even hotter than last, resulting more widespread disastrous drought, and extreme climate events continue to occur at an increasing rate, perhaps the public outcry will reach the ears of our representatives on Capitol Hill.

What would this legislation do?  It would set a long-term emissions reduction goal of 80% or more by 2050 ??? a ???too little too late??? goal in the view of many, but ???realistic??? in the view of others.  To help achieve this goal, a carbon fee of $20 per ton of carbon or methane equivalent would be applied at the coal mine, oil refinery, natural gas processing plant or point of importation.  The fee would rise at 5.6% a year over a ten-year period.  It would be levied on about 3,000 of the largest fossil fuel polluters, covering about 85% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates this step alone could raise $1.2 trillion in revenue over ten years and reduce greenhouse gas emission approximately 20% from 2005 levels by 2025.  And the legislation includes other actions that would further reduce emissions.

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