Op-ed in San Jose Mercury News

San jose mercury news

OP-ED San Jose, JULY 01, 2014

Citizens’ Climate Lobby: Republicans’ call for a carbon tax is validated

By Brian Carr, Gary Latshaw and Tom Shaw


A revenue-neutral carbon tax would add 2.1 million jobs to the U.S. economy within 10 years as it cuts global warming pollution from fossil fuels by 33 percent, according to a new study.

The report validates carbon tax advocates, such as former secretary of state George Shultz, who is among two dozen leading Republicans who have warned of the growing threat posed by climate disruption.

The study, prepared by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) and Synapse Energy Economics, shows that a carbon tax with distribution of all the revenue to households would yield two important benefits.

It would reduce climate-heating emissions by a much larger margin than the regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The distribution of the revenue would increase consumer spending, resulting in a net increase in employment — 2.1 million more jobs by 2025 and 2.8 million by 2035.

Shultz, an economist who was President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, is chairman of the Hoover Institution’s Energy Policy Task Force. He called on Congress last year to enact a revenue-neutral carbon tax on production of coal, oil and natural gas, causing their prices to reflect the costs of the climate disruption their emissions cause. The revenue would be distributed to American households as monthly or annual dividends.

Other leading Republicans who have warned of the damage caused by global warming include four former governors, five retired senators, eight former members of the House of Representatives, four former EPA administrators and two other economists who were prominent in Republican administrations.

Many economists across the political spectrum endorse carbon taxes, which allow consumers and businesses to decide through the free market which energy sources will be developed. The REMI study is consistent with other research showing that a revenue-neutral carbon tax promotes economic growth and generates jobs.

The regulations proposed by the EPA on June 2 are insufficient to slow climate change. The rules would reduce CO2 emissions in the electric power sector by 30 percent from their 2005 levels by 2030. This represents only a 7 percent decline in total fossil fuel CO2 emissions from current levels. Federal automobile regulations will curb CO2 pollution by an additional 6 percent.

The carbon tax in REMI’s model would cover all fossil fuels, and it would cut CO2 emissions by about 42 percent in 2030 from current levels. The tax would begin in 2016 at $10 per metric ton of CO2 emitted by the fuels and rise by $10 per ton each year.

To encourage China, India and other large greenhouse gas emitters to adopt similar policies, the law would impose a tariff on imports based on the CO2 emitted in the goods’ production. Goods from countries that impose a price on carbon equivalent to the U.S. tax would be exempt.

The carbon tax would level the playing field for all energy sources. Clean energy would become more profitable, attracting investment and stimulating development of new technology that could be used to reduce global warming pollution worldwide.

Last year, four Republican former EPA heads — William D. Ruckelshaus, Lee M. Thomas, William K. Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman — urged Congress to support the EPA’s regulations or, even better, to enact a carbon tax. They added their voices to those of other thoughtful Republicans, and Congress would do well to heed them.

Brian Carr, San Jose, is an attorney. Gary Latshaw, Cupertino, is a retired physicist and Tom Shaw, San Jose, is an editor for a technology research firm. All are members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. They wrote this for this newspaper.


Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Citizens’ Climate Education Corp

1330 Orange Ave, #300

Coronado, CA 92118