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Nation/World

November 13, 2012

Global warming talk heats up, revisits carbon tax

(Continued)

The right-leaning American Enterprise Institute held an all-day discussion of it yesterday. At the same time, the Brookings Institution released a “modest carbon tax” proposal that would raise $150 billion a year, with $30 billion annually earmarked for clean energy investments. Brookings senior policy fellow Mark Muro called it a “perfect storm” of science and politics.

The conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute is so concerned about a carbon tax that yesterday it filed a lawsuit seeking access to Treasury Department emails discussing the idea.

There’s no question a carbon tax would stir huge opposition. A tax of $20 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions would add 1 or 2 percent to the price of gasoline and electric power, said Muro of Brookings.

Experts on all sides of the issue have watched climate proposals fail in the past. Congress is still split and many in the Republican party deny the existence of man-made climate change, despite what scientists say. Congress also yesterday blocked the European Union from imposing a tax on American airliners flying to the continent as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

Energy industry lobbyist Scott Segal said many utilities will fight a carbon tax. “The conditions are far from ripe for a carbon tax, if for no other reason than a carbon tax is a tax on economic growth.”

But environmental advocates are seizing the moment, determined not to let the interest in climate change subside with the floodwaters.

On Wednesday, former Vice President Al Gore launches a 24-hour online talkfest about global warming and disasters. Another group, 350.org, headed by environmental advocate and author Bill McKibben, is in the midst of a 21-city bus tour.

Gore compared the link between extreme weather and “dirty energy” from coal, oil and natural gas to the links between cigarette smoking and lung cancer or the use of steroids and home runs in baseball.

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