Input Wanted on Carbon Tax Legislation

just a bill

Comment period on Carbon Tax Legislation open until April 12, 2013

Last week, two Senators (Whitehouse & Schatz) and two Congressmen (Wasman & Blumenauer) proposed new legislation to tax green house gas emissions (GHG).  This is commonly known in countries that have passed one, as “a carbon tax”.   Alicia & I feel that a properly implemented carbon tax would be a real benefit to both the planet and the United States.  It would address climate change, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and dirty fossil fuels and improve our economy.

The Representatives proposing this bill have asked for public input on this legislation. I feel strongly that a carbon tax is a good idea, but that their legislation doesn’t go far enough. Suggestions should be emailed to by April 12, 2013. I have provided possible text for such an email below. Feel free to use it as is or to modify it:

Thank you for championing carbon tax legislation.  We need it for our country and out planet.

The goal of a carbon tax is not to raise revenue, but rather to cause people to change their behavior.  Therefore, the carbon tax must be significant enough that people feel a pressure to change their use of carbon. It needs to be significant enough that we as a nation reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, our dependence on foreign energy sources like Mideast oil, and our dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. Since everyone  must reduce energy usage to make these changes, I recommend not confusing the matter by only taxing the large emitters.

I recommend starting the carbon tax at $20 per ton of CO2 emissions and increasing annually by $10-20 per ton until the tax on CO2 emissions is $200 per ton.  For a gallon of gasoline, that would start at 19.6 cents per gallon and increase to $1.96 per gallon.

I recommend creating an energy stamp program to help lower-income earners similar to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).  In addition, some of the revenue should be returned to the American people through reduced tax liability for individuals and businesses and used to fund energy efficiency/weatherization programs, increased R&D and lower the nation’s budget deficit.

The carbon tax can work alongside state programs to reduce emissions similar to how some states and localities have additional gas taxes above and beyond the federal gas tax.

More details on these suggestions can be found at

The more detailed comments that I submitted on the legislation can be found on my Pennies Per Pound blog in the post: Pennies Per Pound: Time to Comment on Proposed Carbon Tax Legislation.

Here are some additional resources from the the press release:

Please take a few minutes to send your feedback to and ask your friends to do the same.

Together, we can make meaningful change in the world.

Happy Greening!



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  1. I think it’s great for the planet..but..Wait-this could cause hardship for lower income families, and they would have to create an assistance program so people could pay this tax? How is this helping the middle class who wouldn’t qualify? Another hit for middle class working families.

    • Thank you Mom of 2 for the comment and questions.

      The hardest hit would be lower income families, which is why I think a SNAP like Energy Stamp program is crucial to any meaningful carbon tax. As for the middle class, while they would be paying more for carbon intensive energy sources, the impacts will be mitigates by a number of benefits in the short and long term.

      In the short term, the increased funding for energy saving programs like weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades would provide resources to middle class families to upgrade their homes, appliances and other energy consuming devices. The permanent decrease in energy consumption would save the middle class money now and over time. Those programs would also grow good jobs, reduce unemployment and help the economy in the short term. All of those are good for the middle class.

      Over the long term, the decreased GHG emissions and pollutions will reduce the cost of healthcare, a major challenge for the middle class, by reducing the cases of ailments such as asthma and respiratory disease. The changes would also reduce the amount of money that will need to be spent adapting to climate change.

      Another longer term impact is making the local clean energy sources, such solar, wind and biomass, cost competitive with the fossil fuels, much of which we import at a great expense to our economy. Last year the US spent $433 billion dollars importing oil alone. Keeping that money in local economies will benefit all income levels, but especially the middle class.

      As the demand and market grow for electric, hybrid and very efficient internal combustion vehicles, the economies of scale will bring down the cost of such technology making it so that they are no longer only available as luxury vehicles like the Tesla Model S, but rather cars that the middle class can afford and will buy.

      All of these impacts mentioned here will benefit the middle class and help the planet at the same time. By phasing in the carbon tax as I propose, we will also benefit from industry and the market seeing the long term benefit to reducing our consumption of carbon intensive forms of energy.

      Thanks, Jon

  2. Lois Grossman says

    Like Mom of 2 I worry about the burden on those least able to afford it. The big oil companies will just want to pass along the cost to the customers. On the other hand, people can be astonishingly unaware of the conservation measures they can take to spend less on energy. It’s just like the single-stream curbside recycling program we started. Many people never even tried to recycle until we cut the size of the trash barrel and gave them a large recycling barrel. So a carbon tax will bring home the need to conserve to everyone.

    Where I’m not entirely in agreement with your plan is the new layer of bureaucracy that an energy stamp program will entail, and the opportunities for abuse that it will open up. I think the energy companies have to starting paying a carbon tax they should have always been paying because they’re damaging the environment. What they pay has to be applied to the funding for remediation. And somehow they can’t be allowed to pass on those costs to the consumers at the bottom of the energy use pyramid.

  3. I think it could be a good move. Sometimes that’s what it takes to make us all stop and re-think the amount of energy we are personally consuming.

  4. I’m just not a huge fan of the carbon tax. Those who have more money can pay to pollute more? There has to be a better way.

    • Thank you Chrystal for your reply. What would make another approach “better” in your mind?

      The reality of our time (and I think all time) is that people who have more money can pay to consume more. That is one of the reasons that I think any meaningful carbon tax must also be enacted with relief for those who are in poverty and/or struggling to make ends meet. Thanks!

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