• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Putting a Price on Carbon

    During the 2009 Offshore Technology Conference yesterday a lengthy panel took place to discuss meeting America’s energy challenges in both the near and the long term. The list of the panelists can be found below. Although not everyone came out and said it, a number of the panelists concluded a price on carbon was necessary.

    Marvin Odum, President of Shell Oil, was the first to come out and say it. While he acknowledged it will cost energy prices to rise, he supported cap-and-trade legislation that would reduce carbon dioxide reduction. He mentioned that the legislation must be done right and cannot hurt the economy, suggesting that a gradual phasing of reduction cuts would be ideal. Other members of the panel concurred.
    But the reality is that any carbon reduction scheme (a carbon tax was also mentioned) will have significant economic consequences. Either way, it’s a tax on energy consumption. In fact, it would act as a huge tax. If enacted, cap-and-trade will be one of the government’s largest revenue sources within the next decade.

    Panelist David Holt, the president of Consumer Energy Alliance, noted that just about everything we produce and use must be made with energy. In fact, since 85 percent of our energy demand is met through fossil fuels, increasing the costs of energy through a cap and tax bill and not hurting the economy are mutually exclusive.

    Bill Graves, CEO of the American Trucking Association and former Governor of Kansas, took the most realistic approach. He emphasized that we should fully understand what a carbon cap will do to all sectors of the economy and slow down with policy implementation for something that could have such drastic unintended (and intended in terms of forced reduced energy demand) consequences.

    According to The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis, job losses resulting from the Lieberman-Warner cap and trade would have surpassed 900,000 in some years. Keep in mind; this is net of any “green jobs” created. Also keep in mind; the Waxman-Markey bill is has stricter emission cut targets. It also amounts to about a $2000 tax per year on families.

    Rather than taking a cautious approach to studying the consequences of a bill, companies are instead jumping in line for handouts so they don’t miss the boat. They have an interest in ensuring that their bottom lines are protected. Many of them have calculated that some sort of carbon capping is inevitable and that their interests will therefore be best served by trying to influence how such a cap is implemented. And the best way to do that will be to position themselves as supporters of the legislation and then to provide some helpful suggestions on how to improve it. As it currently stands, any carbon cap will do little to reduce emissions. It will allow businesses to operate pretty much as normal, transfer the costs to consumers or circumvent the system, and lead to no environmental benefit with a great deal of economic pain.

    Some panelists suggested including a clause in a cap and tax bill that somehow protects the economy if a carbon cap slows growth too much yet no one offered a credible explanation of how this would work. The reality is that it can’t be done. Look at today’s economic recession. Energy demand is down, economic production is slowed and as a result carbon dioxide emissions are down. If we want a preview of what global warming regulations will do, we’re witnessing it.

    Panelists: Roger Ballentine (Senior Fellow, Progressive Policy Institute), Jack Gerard (President, American Petroleum Institute), Bill Graves (President, American Trucking Association), Jason Grumet (Executive Director, National Council on Energy Policy), David Holt (President, Consumer Energy Alliance), Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Jim May (President, Air Transport Association) and Marvin Odum (President, Shell Oil Company).

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Putting a Price on Carbon

    1. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      The premise that carbon dioxide is a pollutant is false. Cap and trade is to socialize the political power away from our Constitution. It is anti-American. We must get rid of the socialists and communists at every level in our society.

      By the way, 6 billion people exhale 5.4 million metric tons per day! That is 25% of the total CO2 output. May be the real agenda is to exert population control.

    2. J. Thompson, Virgini says:

      Environmental Impact Studies are required for even minor construction projects which are voluminous and unbeliveably detailed claiming to predict a modest impact on water, insects and plant life. Why are detailed Ecomonic Impact Studies not required on environmental and other Govenment policy actions? Four degrees separates us from the last Ice Age and engineers claim to be able to forecast global sea level change in inches for 2030, if nothing is done. "significant economic consequences" are too vague for people to understand. What does that means in the cost of bread, electricity, gas, jobs, housing, cost of living index etc? When does the elasticity of price trigger the movement of production (jobs)overseas or worst the destruction of demand? Canada could build nuclear or fossil power plants near our borders and sell us elecricity. Their economy and jobs go up but our carbon footprint, jobs and economy goes down. What about the mobility of jobs? Can a coal miner without a job in West Virginia really move to Colorado for that green engineeering job? Can a mother of four, marketing analysis, get one of those "shovel ready" jobs building roads in Ohio? Do you suppose the Chinese will agree to stay in abject poverty for another 50 years so as to keep greenhouse gases down? What will it take and cost to dropped the sea level by two inches in 10.7 years? Surely the environmental modeling folks can do the economic models with over sight from the Economic Protection Agency. Wait! We apparently don't have one of thoses.

    3. Thomas Gray SC says:

      I have no problem with regulating dangerous pollutants being allowed to enter into the atmosphere but keep this in mind,,

      by raising the taxes on tobacco the people that smoke pay those taxes.

      by adding or creating taxes on the production of electricity or anything manufactured the people that use them will pay also.

      And all for the pleasure of who ?

    4. Pingback: More on Monday’s “Meeting the Energy Challenge” Panel. | Little Miss Attila

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.