Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Photo by Kyle Field/CleanTechnica

Carbon Pricing

A US Carbon Tax In 2020–2021 Is As Viable As Paying The IRS With Dogecoin

As I rolled out of bed after a few hours of sleep yesterday morning, I rolled onto a writer group chat message that said, “According to Elon, Biden said no to a carbon tax.” My first thought was, “please tell me this isn’t what I think it is.”

I don’t know the full context of the conversation between Elon Musk and President Joe Biden’s administration, but on Joe Rogan’s podcast, Elon said, “I talked to the Biden administration, and they were like ‘Well, this seems too politically difficult.’ And I was like, ‘Well, this is obviously a thing that should happen.’ And by the way, SpaceX would be paying a carbon tax too. So I’m like, you know, I’m like, I think we should pay it too. It’s not like we shouldn’t have carbon generating things. It’s just that there’s got to be a price on this stuff.”

Again, I don’t know how the topic came up or in what context (maybe the administration was just asking Elon for his perspective on the best thing to do for the climate and Elon provided his opinion in a total political vacuum), but the viability of a US carbon tax in the next 2 years is somewhere below 0%. (I know, that’s not possible. It’s just a rhetorical device to make my point as clear as possible.) It’s more likely — much more likely — that Jeff Bezos will die poor than that you’d get Joe Manchin (not to mention several other senators) to vote for a carbon tax.

Honestly, I hope to the graciousness of Martian kings that Elon didn’t think he could actually convince the Biden administration to go for this. Because it has nothing to do with the Biden administration. The Biden administration could try to make Dogecoin the currency of the United States and China, but it’s just not going to happen. And I’d say that pushing the Biden administration to do that would be equally as useless as pushing the Biden administration to try to get a carbon tax through Congress, but the former would actually be more useful — it would at least be entertaining, a good dinner table story, and not painfully grating.

First of all, if Elon does really want this (I’m quite sure he does), he needs to stop using the phrase carbon tax and instead use terminology that actually has a chance of getting onto a legitimate bill. (Elon, you can talk to Climate XChange — or me — for a quick rundown on useful terminology as well as viable carbon pricing options.)

Secondly, a little tad bit of help getting some completely useless fossil-loving Republican senators out of office would be critical — and that is an area where Elon’s influence could go a long way. Frankly, you could call it the “Free Ice Cream For Republicans Bill” and it wouldn’t get a Republican vote in today’s Senate if it put a price on carbon.

Yes, carbon pricing was a Republican policy proposal once upon a time. Some prominent Republicans even pushed hard for it in the past decade. (Rest in peace, George Pratt Shultz — I’ll pour one out for you tonight.*) However, in case ye haven’t been paying attention, this is not the party of Lincoln! This is not even the party of Reagan. Heck, darn, gosh golly, this is not even the party of George W. Bush (who also wouldn’t touch carbon pricing with a 420-foot pole). This is the party of … okay, well, let’s not even get into that. The point is that you absolutely cannot get carbon pricing through Congress without a larger number of Democrats in the Senate, enough to outvote fossil-country Democrats like Joe Manchin.

Is carbon pricing logical? Is it the most free-market option to deal with the existential societal risk of climate catastrophe? Yes and yes, but that doesn’t matter at all to a party that gets a lot of funding from fossil fuel companies, will happily let any and all companies pollute as much as they want, and will actually protect the person who almost had them murdered from any political repercussions.

I’ll just end with this: There are tons of superb cleantech policies Elon Musk could push for when talking to the Biden administration. If he’s not doing that and instead pushing for a carbon tax, he needs some policy/political advisors on hand, and should listen to them. Do it for the doges at least.

*A cup of coffee, that is.

Featured photo by Syed F Hashemi on Unsplash

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Former Tesla Battery Expert Leading Lyten Into New Lithium-Sulfur Battery Era — Podcast:

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


You May Also Like


Tesla is weathering a barrage of complaints from critics and regulators who say Musk is moving too fast. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality...

Consumer Technology

Douglas Rushkoff told The Guardian this week that social media users are a commodity that tech billionaires want to exploit.


What happens when we analyze and weigh each of the 3 Tesla master plans, including the intentions outlined and the actions that resulted?


The US FDA has given the go-ahead for Neuralink to begin testing its technology on humans. Will Elon Musk implant the tech in his...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.