Carbon Limits, Yes; Energy Subsidies, No
There isn't much doubt that Congress and incoming President Barack Obama will try to impose some kind of limits on carbon emissions. The Republicans, girding in opposition, are denouncing global warming as a fraud, and claiming that either a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system will impose an unacceptable burden on the economy.
Their strategy of stonewalling cedes the game in what will be the most dangerous aspect of carbon legislation -- the effort to use the proceeds of an emissions tax to subsidize a dead-end expedition into "renewable" energy.
Whether global warming is real will probably not be known for another 50 years. There are signs, in the melting of the Arctic ice cap and warming in Alaska, that something unusual is happening to the climate. But skeptics note that world temperatures haven't risen since 1998 and that, if anything, recent weather has been unseasonably cold. Still, that doesn't mean we can dump billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year without eventual consequences.
A $50 per ton carbon tax would raise gasoline prices about 25 cents per gallon -- nothing we haven't experienced in the last two years -- and accelerate a move toward electric hybrids, weaning us away from foreign oil. Nothing catastrophic there. The same levy would raise electric rates about 10%, which would encourage conservation while pushing us away from fossil fuels.
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