US Congressional Representative John D. Dingell of Michigan, a powerful Democrat, has announced that "he planned to propose a steep new "carbon tax" that would raise the cost of burning oil, gas and coal, in a move that could shake up the political debate on global warming...The proposal came from , chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and it runs directly counter to the view of most Democrats that any tax on energy would be a politically disastrous approach to slowing global warming."
Good strategy to bring this up now, as it takes the CAFE upgrade pressure off. 'Not much here to see, move along now to carbon taxes.'
The Times suggests he's just out to make a political point, in that the majority of Americans would not support real personal sacrifice in the way of a "cap and trade" or carbon tax measure. Sort of reminds us of another Michigan official who proposed bringing back the Selective Service System (the Draft) to make a point about popular support for the Iraq war.Just the act of floating the proposal could have serious political consequences for early Presidential aspirants if they are asked to take positions on it. "..many Democrats still cringe at the memory of President Bill Clinton's trying to pass a broad "B.T.U. tax" in 1993 on most forms of energy. The measure passed the House but not the Senate, and more than a few Democrats believe the effort was one reason they lost their majority in the House in 1994."
Under what scenario might the US Congress plausibly enact either a carbon tax or a Cap & Trade bill...and we're not talking about one that kicks in years after enactment either...and stand prepared to overturn a Presidential veto?
There's only one such scenario that we can think of: one in which both Houses of US Congress have majorities, evenly distributed between both parties, that take environment seriously, believing that government has a key role to play in saving the world from climate catastrophe. The soonest that could come to pass, hypothetically, would be in the Spring of 2009, after the fall election.
Under what circumstances could environment become, say, one of the top three concerns of voting age Americans by November of 2008? It's not going to be a result of science education and civics lessons.
The tipping point comes only if if extreme weather events become a staple of mainstream media reporting. When US citizens realize that they live in a nation with climate refugees aplenty, and are under rapidly increasing pressure to respond to the effects of weather extremes abroad, with foreign aid, for example.
The tipping point comes in time for the 2008 election only if young people nag the hell out their elders and blurt their concerns out every time a video camera runs. Hats off, then, to the organizers of Live Earth.
Via:: Counting on Failure, Energy Chairman Floats Carbon Tax, New York Times
Image credit:: Flood refugees in tent city, circa Mississippi History Now, Mississippi Historical Society.