Larson’s Carbon Tax Proposal

The Hartford Courant, letter to the editor, Aug. 28, 2019

As the hottest month in recorded history drew to a close, U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-Ct., wasn’t just turning up the A/C. He was trying to do something to slow the warming of our planet, introducing a bill (H.R. 4142) that would tax carbon pollution. An overwhelming majority of economists say that this is the fastest, most efficient way to speed the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

This bill would generate $2.3 trillion over 10 years, with about half going toward another major national priority: shoring up our failing infrastructure. The tax proceeds also would fund clean energy research. To protect lower-income and middle-class Americans from increases in the cost of electricity and gas, Larson’s bill calls for rebates.

Our nation must move as quickly as possible to limit intense heat waves, superstorms and the rising sea levels that threaten coastal communities. During my time in Congress, I developed a respect for John Larson’s reasoned, bipartisan approach to lawmaking. His common-sense solution to climate change would put the free market to work and merits support from both sides of the aisle.

Walt Minnick, Boise, Idaho

Co-founder, Partnership for Responsible Growth

Best Way to Fight Climate Change? Put an Honest Price on Carbon

The New York Times, Editorial, Oct. 29, 2018

Excerpt

In the words of George Frampton, a senior environmental adviser to Bill Clinton and co-founder of a group that favors carbon taxes, Partnership for Responsible Growth, it’s an overdue stab at “honestly pricing carbon,” which industry has until now been able to hurl into the atmosphere pretty much for free.

Congress and a Carbon Fee

The New York Times, letter to the editor, June 11, 2018

Re “The Silver Lining of Leaving Paris” (editorial, June 2):

While everyone on the planet should be grateful that various American states and cities are taking responsibility for fighting global warming, the world’s richest country must simply find the will to enact a national solution.

The quickest, most efficient and most potent solution, according to economists, is a carbon fee. Since air pollution, climate change and other problems are caused by burning carbon, the price of carbon should include the costs that those problems impose on all of us and on our economy.

If Congress put a fee on carbon emissions, the free market would accelerate the shift toward sources like solar and wind power. And one price for carbon would make much more sense than a variety of prices set by states.

Such a fee would generate a sizable revenue stream, enabling investments in our ailing infrastructure or other priorities. Some of the proceeds could be rebated to low- and middle-income households to cover slightly higher energy costs.

Can Congress deliver? The percentage of Republican voters who want action is rising, particularly among younger generations. And half of the 78 House members who have joined the Climate Solutions Caucus are Republicans.

It’s time for the G.O.P. to take its conservation flag out of hiding and run it back up the pole.

William C. Eacho III, Washington

Co-founder, Partnership for Responsible Growth

An Opportunity for President Trump to Lead

Council of American Ambassadors, American Ambassadors Review, Spring 2018

Excerpt

In an increasingly complex world, a carbon fee is refreshingly simple. If Congress were to adopt the fee as envisioned by the nonprofit Partnership for Responsible Growth, the U.S. Treasury would impose the levy on all fossil fuels—coal, oil and natural gas—when they leave the well or mine or enter the refinery. The added cost no doubt would be passed along the line to the end user, like almost any cost of doing business. So to compensate low- and middle-income households for slightly higher energy bills, a portion of the fee’s revenue should be returned in the form of a dividend or rebate.

William C. Eacho III, Washington

Co-founder, Partnership for Responsible Growth

 

Making the price of carbon more honest

The Washington Post, letter to the editor, Feb. 15, 2018

A Pigouvian tax. That’s the common-sense response to Fred Hiatt’s plea in his Feb. 12 op-ed, “Don’t celebrate the budget deal. It imperils America,” that Congress “fund” the nation’s priorities. Such a levy, named for British economist Arthur Pigou, is intended to correct an inefficient market outcome.

We subsidize the burning of carbon. We all pay later for lung cancer, asthma, heart disease and the lost productivity resulting from these diseases. Its price does not include the costs of more frequent and more intense hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters that climate change is exacerbating.

By honestly pricing carbon, we could accelerate the inevitable transition to clean energy and reduce carbon’s increasingly high costs to society. Doing so would provide a second benefit: A $49-per-metric-ton fee, increasing by 2 percent a year over inflation, would generate $2.1 trillion over 10 years. Even after rebating a portion of that to lower- and middle- ­income households to compensate them for slightly higher energy costs, there would still be more than $1 trillion left to reduce the fast-rising national debt and address our infrastructure needs.

George T. Frampton Jr., Washington

Co-founder, Partnership for Responsible Growth

Maine is not as vulnerable as Florida, but the toll of climate change will still be high

Bangor (Maine) Daily News, Op-ed, Jan. 30, 2018

Opening paragraphs:

We may not be as vulnerable as our friends in Florida, but Mainers are likely to pay a heavy toll as the climate continues to change. A recent climate assessment by federal scientists concluded that the largest increase in intensity and frequency of heavy precipitation will be in the Northeast.

Sea levels already have risen 7 to 8 inches globally since 1900, with 3 inches of that probably since 1993. That is a rate not seen in any century for at least 2,800 years. The Northeast has and will experience sea level rise greater than the global average, scientists say.

William C. Eacho III, Washington

Co-founder, Partnership for Responsible Growth

 

Climate Change

Traverse City (Michigan) Record-Eagle, Letter to the editor, Oct. 24, 2017

Wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, heat wave. It’s time to take action on climate change, and residents of Michigan’s largest congressional district should be pleased that their representative in Congress, Jack Bergman, has just joined the House Climate Solutions Caucus. He is the first member from Michigan.

Many people think that all Republicans are climate change skeptics. In fact, half of the 60 members of this caucus are Republicans.

Their interest in this challenge reflects growing concern in the party. For example, 62 percent of Trump voters support taxing and/or regulating the pollution that causes global warming, according to a Yale survey, and that was before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston.

If we are to make significant progress on climate change, this caucus will have to provide some of the leadership.

We hope that Congressman Bergman can help persuade his colleagues to engage in the art of compromise that legislators are paid to perform. Here’s one idea for this fall: To pay for tax cuts, enact a carbon fee to accelerate the shift to clean energy.

George T. Frampton Jr., Washington

Co-founder, Partnership for Responsible Growth

 

In support of a carbon tax

The Washington Post, letter to the editor, June 25, 2017  

The No. 1 reason that a carbon fee (or tax) has political potential is that it offers Congress flexibility. Lawmakers could opt for the Shultz and Summers’s proposal and treat all their constituents to a quarterly dividend. Or they could use the sizable revenue such a fee would generate to reduce the high corporate tax rate or some other tax. Yet another option is to plow that money into infrastructure, aid for coal-dependent communities, clean energy and other priorities. 

Like Congress, the business community can also see value in such a fee, as illustrated by the support of General Motors, ExxonMobil, Procter & Gamble and other major corporations. Its simplicity, efficiency and reliance on the free market make a carbon fee superior to other climate-change solutions, and business executives are not in denial about the changing climate. Let’s hope that the business community will use its influence to convince Congress that pricing carbon is not only good for Americans’ health but is also smart economics and smart politics.

William C. Eacho III, Washington

Co-founder, Partnership for Responsible Growth

Renewables, carbon tax feel the love at D.C. March

E&E Daily, May 1, 2017

Excerpt

Marchers carried tiny wind model turbines to the White House on Saturday, along with banners supporting solar energy, carbon taxes and pipeline resistance.

Conservatives who are calling for action on climate change will launch a series of TV ads running in D.C. this week to highlight the threat posed by warming. Sponsored by the Partnership for Responsible Growth, the ads urge both parties in Congress to protect America from climate change and "remind our nation's leadership that time is not on our side," according to a media advisory.

The crisis of climate change

The Washington Post, letter to the editor, Jan 29, 2017

If the president is open to taking the advice in Todd Stern’s Jan. 25 op-ed, “The deal of the century on climate,” he should do so by pursuing the one option that would also help him deliver on tax reform and infrastructure. That option is a carbon fee, which a large majority of economists (and our incoming secretary of state) say is the quickest, most efficient and most potent solution to climate change. If Congress finally puts a price on carbon emissions, the free market will drive down the use of carbon. That’s what Canada is doing.

For our dealmaker in chief, the bait is the money that would come pouring in. If we adopted a fee of $35 per metric ton (MT) of carbon dioxide, with annual increases of inflation plus 4 percent, it would generate $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion over 10 years. That would go a long way toward paying for infrastructure, tax cuts — and maybe even part of that border wall.

The U.S. national debt held by the public equals nearly $12 trillion. That’s sobering enough. Now the Congressional Budget Office is predicting that it will soar by $8.6 trillion over the next 10 years.

As global temperature records continue to be topped, a carbon fee is a simple way to help us achieve several goals. It represents the kind of old-fashioned, bipartisan compromise that our elected officials are paid to hammer out.

George T. Frampton Jr., Washington

Co-founder, Partnership for Responsible Growth

 

Carbon taxes do work

The Washington Post, letter to the editor, Nov. 6, 2016

If letter-writer Blane Morse wants to give nuclear power a boost, he should be singing the praises of a carbon tax instead of criticizing it [“Nuclear power, not a carbon tax, can stop global warming,” letters, Nov. 1]. Today, nuclear power is not cost-competitive in part because we subsidize fossil fuels, which do not cover their external costs. Impose a carbon fee at a significant level ($30 or more) to remove that subsidy, and nuclear would become competitive again.

Cigarette taxes and gasoline prices are just two examples of how consumption declines when items cost more. Mr. Morse claimed that there’s no evidence that a carbon fee works, but British Columbia has had one since 2008 and has seen emissions decline. Our new Congress and president should follow British Columbia’s example, price carbon and put the free market to work to rationalize our energy choices, strengthen our economy and combat climate change. 

William C. Eacho III, Washington

Co-founder, Partnership for Responsible Growth

Climate change: 5 reasons why the U.S. should enact a carbon fee

Minneapolis Star Tribune, Op-ed, June 10, 2016

The paper is piling up at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan is in the cross hairs of half the states, and judges are plowing through briefs filed by more than 1,000 trade associations, lawmakers, advocacy groups and others with a point of view.

You may hate the EPA rule. Or you may love it. Maybe you have no opinion at all. But almost all of us could probably agree on one thing: There must be a simpler, quicker and more effective way to fight climate change.

In fact, there is: a revenue-neutral carbon fee.

Such a fee has many advantages.

First, it would give every American and every company doing business in this country a clear incentive to reduce consumption of coal, oil and other fossil fuels that are increasing global warming and contributing to a host of serious problems, including drought and the spread of diseases such as the Zika virus.

Second, a carbon fee of $35 per ton would generate more than $150 billion of revenue per year, half of which could be used to reduce the U.S. corporate income tax — now the highest in the industrialized world (an uncompetitive 35 percent) — to 25 percent. The other half could be used to reimburse low- and lower-middle-income earners for slightly higher energy costs. (A $35 per ton fee translates to 33 cents per gallon of gas.)

Third, carbon fees work. The province of British Columbia has had one since 2008. The tax has reduced fossil-fuel consumption by 9 percent, while use in the rest of Canada has risen. Meantime, British Columbia’s GDP growth has outperformed that country’s.

Fourth, even if the Clean Power Plan survives court challenges, it will not do enough to enable the U.S. to meet its pledge at December’s conference in Paris. And all of the pledges made there, if fulfilled, will not stop the global temperature from rising above the 2-degrees-Celsius goal. But a revenue-neutral carbon fee would enable our country to meet the Paris pledge and would even put us in a position to contribute our full share to the carbon-dioxide reduction needed to keep the temperature rise below 2 degrees.

Fifth, a revenue-neutral carbon fee would be much simpler and easier to implement than a cap-and-trade system or the Clean Power Plan. In fact, it would greatly reduce — or eliminate — the need to use EPA regulations at all. Such regulations could change constantly, thus creating uncertainty that would inhibit business investment. A carbon fee is a market solution, not a regulatory solution.

Could such a fee pass Congress? I think so, and here’s why. Recently I had a chance to sample congressional reaction. I sat down with 10 members of Congress or their aides to explain why this former businessman believes that this is the smartest idea out there.

I was accompanied by representatives of the Partnership for Responsible Growth. This nonprofit began work last year to promote adoption of a carbon fee that not only would counter climate change but also would promote growth via tax reform. This group has now conducted more than 200 such visits, mostly with Republicans. The bottom line: A sizable majority of these members of Congress are open to this creative compromise, as long as business and opinion leaders back home are on board. I urge Minnesota’s business leaders to tell the 10 Minnesotans on Capitol Hill that it is time to act.

There are signs that public opinion is moving in this direction. A survey by three GOP pollsters in September showed that 54 percent of conservative Republicans would support a carbon fee if the proceeds were rebated.

The recent finding by a scientific report that sea levels are likely to rise much faster than previously believed — perhaps by 5 or 6 feet over the next 85 years — injects even more urgency to the task facing us. Let’s put a price on carbon, at long last, and put our faith in the free market to carry us to a healthier, more prosperous future.

 Roger Parkinson

Advisory Board, Partnership for Responsible Growth

Carbon Pricing and Climate Change

The New York Times, letter to the editor, Jan. 25, 2016

Not only are states, provinces and countries putting a price on carbon, but so are many companies.

More than 430 major companies — including General Motors, Stanley Black & Decker and Colgate-Palmolive — are now using an internal price on carbon for internal planning and to make investment decisions, according to C.D.P. (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project). More than a thousand companies worldwide, including most major hydrocarbon companies, are doing this or have pledged to do so within two years.

Rather than stand by while businesses and states price carbon individually, Congress should enact a revenue-neutral carbon fee. The proceeds could be used to fund long-overdue tax reform, cutting taxes for business and reimbursing lower-income families for paying a few cents more at the pump.

Our nonprofit has spoken with 175 members of Congress, or their aides, and there is bipartisan openness to considering this idea after the election. Most want to know that their business leaders back home are on board. Those opinion leaders need to deliver the message to Congress that this is the cheapest and fastest way to reduce dangerous emissions.

Walt Minnick, Boise, Idaho

Co-founder, Partnership for Responsible Growth

 

Ways to Combat Global Warming

The New York Times, letter to the editor, Oct. 1, 2015

Kudos to Siemens for adopting an ambitious plan to eliminate carbon from its global operations. But what can the United States do to improve the carbon-reduction performance of companies that do not follow Siemens’s lead?

The quickest and most efficient solution is to turn to the free market and enact a carbon fee.

To overcome Republican opposition in Congress, use half of the revenue generated to reduce our corporate tax rate (the highest in the industrialized world) to 25 percent. The balance could be returned to low- and middle-income families to offset their slightly higher energy costs.

More than 40 countries have adopted some form of carbon pricing. British Columbia’s revenue-neutral carbon fee has reduced fossil fuel emissions by 16 percent, while emissions in the rest of that country have risen 3 percent. Meantime, British Columbia’s growth outperforms Canada’s.

Our nonprofit has briefed more than 175 senators and representatives, or their aides, and found great interest in this kind of bipartisan solution. The climate-change challenge grows by the day, so we urge Congress to act promptly.

George T. Frampton Jr., Washington

Co-founder, Partnership for Responsible Growth