It's time for a carbon tax!

It's no longer a surprise when Republicans try to block our president from taking any action on climate change. However, it's quite a shock when a former Bush Administration official comes out in favor of a plan even stronger than the president's. Recently, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times calling for a tax on carbon. It shouldn't be a surprise that a well-educated, executive level official believes in science, but it is worth noting that this Republican's carbon tax suggestion is more progressive than the cap-and-trade plan supported by our democratic president.

Unlike a carbon tax, Obama's cap-and-trade does not include methane emissions from natural gas. Cap-and-trade allows Wall Street to continue to manipulate the market and discourage investment in renewables. In addition, because carbon credits in a cap-and-trade system are issued based on how much companies pollute, many utilities ramp up pollution before these systems are put in place in order to “earn” more carbon offsets. In comparison, a carbon tax does not reward current polluters, and it is less susceptible to fraudulent Wall Street trading schemes. By putting a price on actual pollution, a carbon tax lowers the cost of clean energy, and encourages investment in new technology.

A tax on carbon pollution also factors in dangerous methane emissions, and forces the fossil fuel industry to pay for the social costs of destroying our environment. In his op-ed, Hank Paulson wrote, “We can debate the appropriate pricing and policy design and how to use the money generated. But, a price on carbon would change the behavior of both individuals and businesses.” We must continue to fight for that change, and force our president to see that a carbon tax is a better plan than cap-and-trade.

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