December 31, 2018

Taxing Carbon Emissions

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse writes that “the savings from avoiding climate catastrophe are immense.”

To the Editor:

I must respectfully disagree with my friend John Barrasso’s Op-Ed article (“Cut Carbon Through Innovation, Not Regulation,”, Dec. 18).

First, the referendum result in Washington State looked like more relentless campaigning by the fossil fuel industry against climate action; without that industry onslaught, the carbon tax referendum there would probably have passed.

Second, a carbon tax is not “expensive,” except maybe for fossil fuel interests, as in our proposals all the money goes back to the public. In addition, taxing carbon moves energy markets toward cheaper renewables. On balance, people save money.

On top of that, the savings from avoiding climate catastrophes are immense. If you really want to innovate, there has to be a cost to carbon pollution. Without that, where is the incentive to innovate?

Today, fossil fuel enjoys a $700 billion-a-year subsidy in the United States, according to the International Monetary Fund. That subsidy warps the economy; it discourages innovation.

We need to come together to solve this problem, not let the fossil fuel industry’s talking points lead us away from a meaningful solution because leading us astray suits its interests.

Sheldon Whitehouse
Newport, R.I.
The writer, a Democrat, is a United States senator from Rhode Island.

By: Sheldon Whitehouse