Photo via UPI
Earlier today, I reported that there are still hopes a bipartisan clean energy bill will come to a vote in the Senate this year. I also mentioned that the primary mechanism of reducing greenhouse gas emissions was still being discussed, and that it may not end up being the cap and trade system we've all come to know and lo--tolerate. It could, allegedly, even be the unthinkable: a carbon tax! Most surprisingly, this is the solution preferred by the same Republican senator who is spearheading an effort to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). What gives?To be honest, I won't say I'm 100% sure about what's going on here--but I'm willing to venture a pretty good guess. Here's what we know, via a Reuters report on the status of the climate bill:
Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, told Reuters she was "investigating and researching a net zero carbon tax" as well as other proposals. He stressed that Murkowski, from a big oil-producing state, has not drafted a carbon tax bill, but so far it is the option "she likes the most."The Washington Post also reports that Murkowski is favoring a carbon tax.
Something seems fishy here--Murkowski is so against the EPA regulating the greenhouse gas pollution of the nation's biggest polluters that she took the time to write, with the help of oil lobbyists, what's come to be known as the Dirty Air Act. That would stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, as none other than the Supreme Court has ruled should be done.
And yet, she's calling for a "net zero carbon tax"--an option embraced by hardcore environmentalists and economists, but one that most liberals even fear too unlikely to pass the Senate. Really. So allowing the EPA to regulate a handful of the biggest polluters is an egregious affront to the American economy, but an across-the-board carbon tax that would tax greenhouse gas emissions everywhere is acceptable?
I don't buy it. Not for a second. It's all gamesmanship. Murkowski knows that a net zero carbon tax--which would place a tax on carbon while reducing, say, payroll taxes to make it 'net zero' to the American taxpayer--doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing Congress. Just imagine what would happen to any senator who was caught voting to instate a new tax in these recession-wearied, tea partyin' times. But by publicly advocating such a measure, she can garner green kudos, then throw her hands up in the air and feign frustration when her tax proposal comes to naught.
It's the same strategy Exxon has taken up--calling for carbon taxes to gain itself some positive PR while knowing full well that such an idea is too radical to become law anytime soon. Worse, it serves to confound the process, and delays the pricing of carbon.
It's a sneaky strategy--and we shouldn't let Murkowski get away with it.
See Who Else Likes Carbon Taxes? Not Exactly the GOP's Faves . . . Al Gore, France, San Francisco
Al Gore Says Carbon Tax Best Choice
France to Impose a Nationwide Carbon Tax
It's Official: Bay Area Passes Carbon Tax
Yeah, let's add Lisa Murkowski's name to that list, and see if she gets reelected.