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Carbon Tax Power plant pollution via Shutterstock

Published on February 3rd, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan

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4.47 To 1 — Ratio Of U.S. Voters Who Would Prefer Carbon Tax To Cut In Spending

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February 3rd, 2013 by Zachary Shahan
 

Power plant pollution via Shutterstock

Politically, it seems there are simply too many whack-jobs (aka Tea Partiers) in Congress to get a carbon tax passed… or to get almost anything sensible passed. But that doesn’t mean Americans wouldn’t support the policy.

For example, a recent poll found that 93% of Democrats and even 66% of Republicans (like much of the world) support a carbon tax. Furthermore, 67% of voters would rather see the government tax carbon pollution than cut government spending in order to fix budget problems, versus a measly 15% who would prefer the reverse. Here are some more interesting findings from the recent poll (from Friends of the Earth, via climate crock buster Peter Sinclair):

  • “Voters’ strong support for carbon taxes do not differ greatly based on how the revenue would be used: whether to help solve our budget problems (70 percent in favor), or to help solve our budget problems as well as fund climate and clean energy jobs programs (72 percent in favor).”
  • Survey respondents were very supportive of a carbon tax even when presented with strongly-worded arguments against it, including the contention that ‘with the economy in trouble and too many people struggling to find jobs, this is a wrong time to pass a new tax on every business and consumer in America.’



 
And here are more fun stats regarding a potential carbon tax:

“Even a modest tax on carbon dioxide pollution, like that proposed by Representative Pete Stark (D-Calif.) in 2009, has the potential to generate substantial revenue: Stark’s tax, for example, could have yielded $80 billion in the first year alone, and $600 billion over 10 years. That is about half the amount that the automatic spending cuts ($1.2 trillion) would save over nine years, less if part of the revenue were refunded to consumers.”

Who would’ve thought? Republicans and Democrats alike don’t like the fact that we’re cooking our planet, and have the common sense to see that discouraging that while earning money for the American public is a good idea. First step accomplished. Next step: remove Tea Partiers and their kin from Congress!

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



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  • science guru

    Any tax is a bad tax. We in the USA are already at 73% tax if you add together the many bloated and hidden taxes. Spending IS the problem, they just don’t want to look at it because it would expose their incompetency!
    P. S. Who did they survey, sewer rats?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Oh, bull.

      The taxes that pay for our fire departments and police forces are not bad taxes.

      The taxes that pay for our highways and airports are not bad taxes.

      The taxes that educate our future citizens are not bad taxes.

      The taxes that help us stay competitive in world markets are not bad taxes.

      Wasting tax dollars is a bad idea. That we can agree on. If those who wish our tax rates were lower would focus on how to get good results while spending less they would be doing the country a great favor. When they call for cuts simply for the sake of cuts they are doing a disservice.

      • http://profiles.google.com/ivor.oconnor Ivor O’Connor

        Taxes for fire departments, police, highways, airports, and education are all bad taxes.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      73%? Way to discredit yourself in the eyes of any sane person.

      Pollution is a hidden tax on society, that just benefits the rich right now. If we taxed those rich polluters, we could improve our economy.

  • ryan bishop

    Just what we need… more taxes! Instead of fixing the leaks in the bucket our Government just decides to increase the rate of water flowing into the bucket… genius.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Does it bother you that we spend about a billion dollars a day treating those Americans made ill by coal pollution?

      Doesn’t it make sense to fix that leak of public money?

      How about the ever increasing number of “billion dollar” extreme weather events we are paying for?

      Those are hell-a-big holes in our public bucket.

      Don’t you think we should get those big holes plugged? You against spending small money to save big money?

      Like fixing your roof before your ceiling collapses and ruins your furniture….

      • Otis11

        So I’m a very large proponent of a carbon tax – but we HAVE to fix our spending addiction too. Just like we are living in an unsustainable way environmentally, our government is currently unsustainable economically, and in both cases it’s our kids who are going to lose.

        And a carbon tax is not a suitable answer. As we start to tax it, it will decrease and the revenue will go down. We need to use it to fund temporary issues like paying back the deficit not paying for entitlement programs, because when the carbon tax revenue is gone, those will still be as money hungry as ever.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Our government spending is not nearly as bad as Republicans would like us to believe. Our largest problem is that our economy is still under performing. As we further recover revenues will increase and unemployment support costs will drop.

          The US government is not like a household. We don’t need to ever pay off our debt. We simply keep the interest payments affordable.

          A more efficient government would be a good thing. Nothing wrong with getting the biggest bang possible out of a buck.

          Right now carbon is costing us a fortune. There’s the billion or so we spend each day to treat coal-caused health problems.

          We spent hundreds of billions recovering from extreme weather disasters last year. And hundreds of billions the year before. If we don’t get climate change under control then we really could go bankrupt.

          We spent around $9 trillion to fight three oil wars and trillions more policing the oil fields and supply routes. We spent more hundreds of billions on “homeland security”.

          Get rid of carbon fuels on our grid and in our transportation systems and we save ourselves trillions of dollars.

          Taking care of the less fortunate is what makes us a civil nation.

          • science guru

            The economy will always be under performing so long as there is too heavy of a tax burden for the producers.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            –>Nope.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      1- this would be fixing a leak. 2- no one said they had to be exclusive. this is just a poll result.

  • JimBouton

    I like Peter Barnes “Cap and Dividend” idea. Anyone introducing fossil fuels (coal, NG, or petroleum) into the environment has to obtain a permit from an auction and pay a fee. That fee is refunded to all of the U.S. citizens in equal monthly payments. (It is an idea that is very similar to the Alaska trusts.)

    The price of carbon is driven up and people have skin in the game to support that happening (they get checks.) Even the tea partiers might have a tough time turning that one down to their constituents.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Or put a tax on carbon as it leaves the ground or crosses the boarder.

      Use that revenue to subsidize retail electricity prices.

      If we tax the carbon then we tip the scales in favor of clean energy.

      If we use the revenue to offset any increase in electricity price then we don’t harm household budgets or drive up the cost of manufacturing.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      I’m a big fan. But, with the Tea Partiers, I think it’s more about their close ties to the fossil fuel giants and their group think/voting that would doom it. Ideologically, i think they should support it.

  • Marshall Harris

    I fully agree and would strongly support a Carbon Tax.

    Which should be called a Pollution Tax, in my opinion.

    I’m less than confident that it could make it through Congress though. The fossil fuel lobby would fight tooth and nail against it. The Tea Party, lacking rationality and logical arguments, would ensue with a great deal of high-volume emotional rants. Probably protests too.

    We need to make sure all our troops are in order before we go marching into the battlefield. Let’s first make sure Obama is on board, almost all Democrats and some moderate Republicans (if they still exist). But yes I am ready for this fight when it comes, and I hope it will come.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      First parts: agreed & agreed.

      Last part: sometimes, the crowd has to lead, but I’m not clear on this issue if the crowd has to lead or wait — lean towards a bit of both, if that makes sense. :D

  • http://profiles.google.com/ivor.oconnor Ivor O’Connor

    I’m never for more taxes. What I am for is removing all subsidies for all energies across the board. So we are taxed less. Pay less taxes while getting more green.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Yeah. Let’s remove all subsidies.

      Since fossil fuels have been getting subsidies for 100 years, let’s cut their’s first.

      We’ve been propping up nuclear since the 1960s or so. Pull their support. Fifty years should be plenty time for them to learn how to support themselves.

      Wind and solar. We’ve supported them only 30 years or so and only a slight percentage per year of what fossil fuels and nuclear get, so in a fair world they should get a few more decades at a much higher level of support.

      That would be good old American fair play, is it not?

      Ah, but wait.

      The wind industry has said that they won’t need subsidies after 2017. They’ve actually told Congress to start phasing them out after 2015.

      And 2017 is the year that solar’s subsidies end. And I’ve heard no one say that they will need to be extended. Solar subsidies already go down each year since they’re based on the installed price of solar.

      Four more years after this one and onshore wind and PV solar are going to wean themselves from the public tit.

      Now, Ivor, you old tax hating funster. Why don’t you take yourself off and campaign to cut off funding for fossil fuels and nuclear? Renewables don’t need your tough love. They’ve got their acts together.

      You anti-tax people need to focus your attention on where the real money is being spent. Look in the bank accounts of the Koch brothers. You know them, they’re the money behind the Tea Party.

      That’s were a lot of your billions can be found. The Koch’s spend some of their petty cash to get you folks all fired up about renewable subsidies in order to protect the taxpayer dollars that pour into their pockets.

      • JustSaying

        Yes, cut all the 30-100 year old support to coal, gas, and oil. That include all the special laws (thay anti loop hoops, they were written as laws) that let oil/gas/coal structure themselve and the cost so they don’t pay taxes. That gets you to the start line also makes a big move to halp balance the budget. BUT only the start.

        For over 100 years we have give them even more in hidden externals. Hidden Health care cost of of coal alone was last pegged and $500 billion a year in the US. The carbon tax is added to start accounting for these cost: Health, military, environment. Amount collect divided people on Fed tax forms = amount per person. Get 1 year warning, then should ramp up to over three year (lets assume 120% of the Auzzie number at that point). Just 1/3, 2/3, 1; that will give four year for any biz that wants to avoid impact. Then it should go up say 10%-15% a year there after.
        The other way would be to split the pot, n% goes to tax return; the (100-n)% goes to making public building more energy/water eff and add PV to public roof/parking lots with a good payback. Any city/state/fed building can submit a plan and the best get funded first. So both privte and public spending will create a lot of jobs in eff and alternative power.

        Now of course oil, gas, coal will claim either is a NEW tax. But the first is just removing pork, and the second is a user fee.

        On the balance budget side there are other groups getting special treatment also that should be removed. Insurance and desposial for Nuclear to name just one.

      • science guru

        The T. E. A. party is the group that wants to cut off funding for fossil fuels and nuclear. Yes there was a small bit of support from the Koch brothers but for the most part T.E.A. is a grass roots movement.
        I only deal in facts, that’s why I’m the science guru

      • http://profiles.google.com/ivor.oconnor Ivor O’Connor

        I’m all for wind and solar but as long as we have subsidies they’ll always go to those that deserve them least, i.e., fossil and nuclear. Wind and solar don’t need subsidies to destroy the old industries. They just need fair accounting across the board and we’ll be rid of the pollution within a decade.

        • Bob_Wallace

          We won’t get fair accounting. Coal will not be charged for the health costs is causes. Oil won’t be charged for the cost of oil wars.

          Wind and solar will both likely be free of subsidies by 2017-2018.

          Coal and oil will likely keep on sucking at the public tit.

          As a society we are going to have to decide how fast we want to get off fossil fuels in order to avoid the worst of climate change.

          We can speed up the transition by putting a thumb on the scale and making fossil fuels a bit more expensive, renewable a bit cheaper, or some of both.

          • http://profiles.google.com/ivor.oconnor Ivor O’Connor

            Ok… Most of what you say I agree with. However these nuclear and fossil companies do need to be charged for the pollution they cause. Let these polluters then pass on the costs to their users. Let’s not make clever convoluted “solutions” that lead to more of a mess.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            I think we definitely agree with you here. The problem is political feasibility. Getting rid of nuclear and fossil fuel subsidies has proved infeasible, and pricing pollution even more so (if that’s possible).

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      I’m sure wind and solar industries would be more than happy about that. They get the short end of the stick. (And, of course, with a cut in subsidies should come a cut in externalities, which are a form of societal subsidy. That would really seal the deal.)

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