Increasing Agreement on Carbon Taxes — Goodbye 2008 Conventional Wisdom

Huffington Post Analysis says carbon taxes work better and more feasible politically than cap-and-trade-

The argument that cap-and-trade has always had going for it was political feasibility, but maybe a revenue neutral carbon tax is more feasible. Economic theory would predict a more rapid response to a tax than to a market in pollution (or carbon release permits).

Story. By Dan Rosenblum
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~ And here is a related, new idea (to me) — personal carbon savings accounts. Green Stimulus. By Kathleen Rogers. Real Women; Real Voices.






  1. kt Avatar

    So does this just mean that if you have enough $$$ to pay taxes you can pollute as much as you want?

    I haven’t really digested this but there are a lot of folks I don’t usually agree with who support this. Like Thomas Friedman and others who seem to be shills for the latest greatest idea. Does anyone have any ideas about this?

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Yes it does, but there is no doubt that overall pollution will decrease if polluters have to internalize all or part of the costs they have been externalizing (that is free emission of CO2).

    Under a tax it would now cost them by volume emitted of CO2 emitted. They could choose to reduce their costs in CO2 taxes in various ways legally specified (or not at all, though this would probably make them less competitive).

  3. todd Avatar

    a carbon tax has always been recognized as a more effective and efficient mechanism to control emissions than cap-and-trade. unfortunately (or fortunately — depending on your perspective), the republican party has maligned the word “tax” so effectively that most feel it will be a difficult sale, at least this early in the game.


  4. JimT Avatar

    Todd is right…the Republican Party over the past 30 years or so has shown the importance of winning the “labeling” game, and thus capturing the media message in the minds of folks whose news reading consists of the USA Today, or listening to 13 second sound bites.

    Call it a FEE, now and forever. Seems more…capitalistic, somehow…~S~ and acceptable to the business side somehow..

    Interesting piece in our local paper today in Boulder about Oregon and its study of taxing miles instead of gas; it seems they are worried that fuel efficient vehicles are going to significantly lower revenues. The problem with this is typified by our neighbors in our old state of Vermont who had THREE Suburbans, and these were essentially vehicles for driving to work…4 miles away..and for soccer mom activities. So, there is no incentive for this type of family to convert to a more appropriate vehicle for their driving habits, and these behemoths become acceptable to keep, and they continue to spew carbon at the stop signs and traffic lights.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    The news about a mileage tax is very alarming for the reasons you state.

    In addition GPS navigation systems not only help you find your way, they are devices that can track your every vehicular move. A mileage tax based on GPS records will lead to a totalitarian system. This idea must be killed.

  6. JimT Avatar

    The article mentioned that IF it was implemented, it was years away, and it is likely too expensive for Oregon to do alone, so it would require some sort of regional approach in the Northwest. I understand the concerns about road maintenance by states, but IF Obama follows through on the infrastructure overhaul, there should be plenty of money for roads and bridges, at least for major fixes. I agree..the whole GPS thing makes me leery. I read in places about these systems now being marketed to help with lost pets, to prevent child abductions, and to track wandering dementia patients. The purposes are laudable, but the privacy concerns are immense. And I am not sure given the 9-11 civil restrictions, the momentum for abuse would be able to be arrested.

  7. JimT Avatar

    My own uneconomic feeling about the carbon problem with the SUVs is to assess a carbon fee EVERY year and make it substantial and linked to registrations. I have no problem for exceptions for working vehicles, but it should be necessary that you show that you NEED a truck or SUV for your work; that another vehicle more carbon friendly couldn’t be used instead. Hell, give folks tax breaks to make the conversion if need be. I suspect the impact on folks like you who need a truck would be the most critical to address. But, I see thousands of SUVs in Boulder on a weekly really think my good suburban neighbors NEED a SUV, or a Hemi truck for their livelihood? ~S~


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan