Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Gordon Forgey

Carbon tax revisited


November 29, 2018

Something is going to happen about climate change. Just what and when is unknown.

This week, a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress. The prospects that it will be passed are not good, but this is the first bipartisan carbon tax bill in ten years to be considered. The bill will probably be introduced again next year in the House of Representatives.

This comes on the heels of the defeat of I-1631 in Washington. That, too, was a carbon tax proposal. Much was wrong with it. In many important regards it was just too vague and too open to abuse.

The big carbon emitters, of course, were against it, but its failure may have had as much to do with the public’s unease about certain aspects of it.

This new carbon tax proposal needs to be studied. Perhaps it will more directly and concisely address the problem of climate change.

Any such legislation will meet objections. President Donald Trump has flatly declared he does not believe the most recent government report on climate change and the influences human activity has upon it.

This new bill is called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2018. Basically, big carbon emitters will be charged a fee on carbon emissions. The fee would increase annually. A dividend would be allocated to individual households to cover increases in fuel costs. Estimates suggest that greenhouse emissions could be reduced by a third within a decade and cut by 90 percent by 2050.

Whether passed or not, it is a sign of what is coming in the future. Few doubt that the climate is changing and will bring devastating changes to the world. The contentious point is just how much human activity contributes to it. Although the bill may not progress far this time, it is hoped that it will spark debate and conversation about global warming and help to bring the subject to the fore.

Many solutions have been proposed to reduce fossil fuel emissions. Many claim that research and development of energy technologies is the answer or that modernizing infrastructure will reduce emissions.

Although carbon fees are not universally popular, they do focus tightly on a major part of the problem.


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