Conservative groups pressed lawmakers in a Wednesday letter to oppose all proposals to enact a carbon tax.
The organizations pushed back against proposals for a "revenue neutral" carbon tax, a design that some policy experts have floated as a way to win support from fiscal conservatives. That structure would use revenue from taxing emissions to reduce other tax rates or would return that money to consumers.
Here are the reasons:
- Carbon taxes are job killers.
- Promises of revenue neutrality will be broken.
- Carbon is already taxed high enough.
- Higher carbon taxes cause environmental harm.
- Reducing carbon dioxide concentrations in the air causes environmental harm.
- U.S. carbon dioxide emissions already are declining.
- Reducing U.S. emissions won’t stop or delay climate change.
- Global warming fears are overstated.
Here are my quick comments:
- The letter cites the correlation between energy prices and macro performance, much of which is from OPEC price shocks. Also, more recent literature finds that the correlation is not necessarily causal (at least one way causal). Here is an assertion: A gradual ramping up of a carbon tax will likely kill some fossil fuel jobs but will have positive effects in other energy sectors. My guess is that the overall macro effect would be small.
- Agreed. For instance, if carbon tax revenues are needed to reduce government debt and reduce taxes on future generations it might be reasonable to dispense with the revenue neutrality requirement.
- The U.S. has the lowest carbon tax among rich countries (fact check needed, should I say one of the lowest?).
- Because the Tea Party is strongly concerned about endangered bats (filing this argument away in the disingenuity bin).
- Because the Tea Party is strongly concerned about biodiversity (see above parenthetical).
- U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are declining because of a severe and prolonged recession (and low natural gas prices). Strong economic growth will reverse this trend (see above parenthetical).
- If the U.S. pursues a serious climate policy, mechanisms are available to encourage China and India to contribute to the public good. In other words, reducing U.S. emissions might help stop or delay climate change. Alternatively, given the U.S.'s leadership role, increasing U.S. emissions definitely won't stop or delay climate change.
- The evidence against realized effects of climate change cited is recent (e.g., don't you still need a winter coat?), but climate change is expected way down the road.