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Sanders writes: "The scientific community is clear: Global warming is real and it is caused by human activity."

Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Getty Images)
Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Getty Images)

Why We Need a Carbon Tax

By Sen. Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News

11 July 14


SEE ALSO: Could a Socialist Senator Become a National Brand?

he scientific community is clear: Global warming is real and it is caused by human activity. In terms of droughts, heat waves, floods, forest fires, disease, rising sea levels and extreme weather disturbances, global warming is already causing devastating problems. The simple truth is that if we do not act boldly and quickly these problems will only get much worse in the years to come. Global warming is the greatest environmental threat facing the planet and averting a planetary disaster will require a major reduction in the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry for too long has shifted these enormous costs of carbon pollution onto the public, walking away with billions in profits while their emissions help destroy the planet. The top five oil and gas companies alone made over $1 trillion in the past decade. That's over $250 million per day. The fossil fuel industry is destroying the planet with impunity and getting rich while doing it.

That must end.

A carbon tax must be a central part of our strategy for dramatically reducing carbon pollution, a view shared by economists on both ends of the political spectrum, from Arthur Laffer and Gregory Mankiw on the right to Robert Reich and Paul Krugman on the left. In fact, a wide array of unexpected voices support a carbon tax, including former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis, former Treasury Secretaries George Schultz and Robert Rubin, and the four former EPA Administrators, all of whom served under Republican administrations, who testified here in the U.S. Congress just last month.

Why does a carbon tax enjoy this type of support? Why does a carbon tax make so much sense?

For one thing, a carbon tax is the most straight-forward and efficient strategy for quickly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As the Congressional Budget Office explained in a 2008 report, "A tax on emissions would be the most efficient incentive-based option for reducing emissions and could be relatively easy to implement."

Taxing carbon will also mean that the price of fossil fuels will reflect their real costs to our communities. The dirtier the fuel, the more expensive it will be.

Finally, a carbon tax will help give energy efficiency and renewable energy the level playing field they deserve, making these technologies even more affordable. In fact, as clean energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal become even more accessible their cost will drop even more. And renewable energy isn't subject to the wild price swings of gasoline, fuel oil, propane and other fossil fuels that are so harmful to American families and American businesses.

I am proud to have joined with Sen. Barbara Boxer, the chair of the environment committee in the Senate, in introducing the Climate Protection Act last year. Our legislation, which creates a straightforward carbon and methane fee, is the boldest carbon bill ever introduced. Now is the time to rally the American people in support of this bill.

The carbon fee would apply to only 2,869 of the largest fossil fuel polluters, covering about 85 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the approach used in our bill will reduce greenhouse gas emissions levels by about 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 and will generate $1.2 trillion in revenue over 10 years. Our bill returns 60 percent of that revenue directly to American taxpayers to offset any efforts by the fossil fuel corporations to jack up their prices. The rest of the revenue would support large investments in renewable energy, weatherize a million homes a year (which itself would create hundreds of thousands of jobs and save each household hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills), fund $1 billion a year in worker training, and put hundreds of billions of dollars into reducing the national debt.

Some of my colleagues here in the Congress are concerned about the cost of transitioning from a dirty, unsustainable, 20th-century energy system to a clean, renewable, 21st-century energy system. But they seem willing to overlook the enormous costs of not making this transition as quickly as possible. Climate change is already imposing enormous costs on consumers and our economy, and those costs will continue to escalate as the impacts of global warming worsen.

It is time for Congress to catch up with the scientific community and with the rest of the country, acknowledge the severity of the climate change crisis, and take bold action to reduce carbon emissions and leave a habitable planet for our grandchildren. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+3 # Dhimmi 2014-07-11 09:00
Bernie, why are yu\ou telling this to me? That's preaching to the choir!

You should be out tub thumping for massive energy storage, without which renewables aren't going to work very well.
+3 # soularddave 2014-07-11 20:30
Don't forget the imminent need for an upgraded and reconfigured power grid.

The grid we use is technically outdated and inappropriate for the new forms and locations of renewable energy input.
-4 # fredboy 2014-07-11 09:23
Bernie, go ahead and write me off. Had hope for you until your F-35 support. Disgraceful.
-5 # indian weaver 2014-07-11 15:32
I agree, this greed monster is no good. He is supporting the massively wasteful F-35 to keep his job, instead of doing what is right or bailing on congress. I no longer support him in any way. He's the same shill as Obama and dubya. Any one F-35 costs $billions, a program that is simply throwing away how many $trillion?, a plane that is only gravy train for the war machine but will never operate safely. The money spent on this greed machine / war machine rip-off of worthless hardware will support millions of homeless to have a $600K home each, for free (and / or support the recovery of our Middle and Lower Class People and infrastructure for my country instead of the spectacular $trillions of waste going to the rich and powerful, the war machine). Didn't any of you read this a few days ago? He is the same as every other of our criminal politicians, no good. He just has a big mouth like Obama and dubya but does not walk the walk, only talks the talk.
+7 # Carol R 2014-07-11 09:48
More pollution is not a problem, according to GOP politicians, if you come from Indiana. Indiana has a Tea Party governor (Pence) and a gerrymandered GOP dominated congress. Here is how a carbon tax is presented in my state, as reported by The Times of NW Indiana newspaper:

"Gov. Mike Pence is urging U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, and the other members of Indiana's congressional delegation, to use their "power of the purse" to deny funding for implementation of stricter power plant pollution standards.

In his letter to the lawmakers released Thursday, the Republican governor warns that "higher electricity rates, lost jobs and lost business growth" are sure to follow if the state is forced by the federal government to cut its carbon emissions by 20 percent over the next 16 years...coal is a crucial Hoosier energy resource that should continue to be promoted," Pence said."

The American Lung Association reported in 2013 that NW Indiana is the 16th most polluted area in the nation.

I wish Bernie Sanders came from my state.
-23 # brycenuc 2014-07-11 10:44
I support Sanders on everything except his having bought into the outright fraud that CO2 causes dangerous global warming. My fellow liberals have been deluded by the tsunami of false information on that. Both data and science contravene such a claim. Demonization of CO2 is fatuitous on its face. All life on earth requires CO2.
+7 # Dust 2014-07-11 11:38
But you've never once cited a single peer-reviewed scientific paper to support your view. Why is that??? If "Both data and science contravene such a claim", that should be no problem.
+2 # Dust 2014-07-11 12:40
We'll just go ahead and assume you're paid per post, since you don't seem to be able to supply any scientific support for your position.
+6 # soularddave 2014-07-11 20:40
Not only are you WRONG about CO2 not being a greenhouse gas that's contributing to Global warming, you're completely IGNORING the horribly WORSE methane pollution from fracking and oil drilling.

Yes, methane, huge amounts of it, and I'm not talking about mere cow farts. Both methane and CO2 are caused my human activity and can be controlled - if the incentive is there.

I support the incentive, and I'm proud to have Bernie Sanders in the fight and on my side.
+8 # Buddha 2014-07-11 10:59
Actually, what I would do is to take more of that tax and vastly expend the government subsidies for placing solar and wind systems on homes and businesses. You need to present people with their carrot, and "free" energy is the way to do it. Make those subsidies so high that the installed cost of alternative energy is essentially zero, instant payback, and make the Fossil Fuel industry fund its own demise. Don't worry about them "raising prices", as that would simply HASTEN that demise further as alternatives would compete on a pocket-book basis even more. And then with the rest of that tax, find better ways to "fuel" our transportation system (ie, car lifestyles) without burning carbon.
-6 # brycenuc 2014-07-11 11:10
Buddha: Where do you think those goverment subsidies come from?
+9 # Buddha 2014-07-11 15:01
Right now, our income taxes. Under a proper proposal as per the article, such subsidies should come directly from taxing carbon energy sources. Personally, I'd directly target Fossil Fuel profits, not tax gross revenue, so it hits the industry's Plutocrat owners like the Koch's.
-11 # Roland 2014-07-11 14:13
Ahh. The twisted socialist/progr essive mind at work. Where to start?

He says— “the fossil fuel industry for too long has shifted these enormous costs of carbon pollution onto the public, walking away with billions in profits while their emissions help destroy the planet. The top five oil and gas companies alone made over $1 trillion in the past decade…. The fossil fuel industry is destroying the planet with impunity and getting rich while doing it.”

Exxon and Chevron are the two largest tax payers in the US. Their profit margins aren’t as high as Microsoft’s and others, but they make up for that in shear size. If they don’t make an acceptable profit relative to the risks, they won’t be in business. Where does that leave us? They supply a product that the public has been demanding. Let’s blame them for our demand. Without them or someone else taking their place, the cost of an alternative would be much higher (due to demand ) or dirtier (coal). And of course we have to get rid of coal too. Is it the oil companies or us that is destroying the planet with impunity? I have heard that the govt. makes more on a gallon of gas than the oil companies.
-9 # Roland 2014-07-11 14:14
He mentions 2,869 of the largest fossil fuel polluters would be taxed. Are any of these manufactures that export? If you raise their costs here, the production will take place overseas in countries that aren’t as green as we are, making global pollution worse. And as we all know, unless we get China, India and Indonesia to do something this effort won’t amount to much.
+3 # soularddave 2014-07-11 20:53
Actually, China (#1) is beating the USA (#2)in implementation of renewable energy. India (#8) isn't far behind.
Just Google "China renewable energy". Its also here:
+2 # oprichniki 2014-07-11 17:39
NO Bernie we do NOT need a carbon tax. It just increases the looting opportunities for politicians. What we do need is a Manhattan like project to increase thermodymanic efficiencies and more rocket scientists and fewer lawyers in Congress. 6% approval? You must be inhaling!
+7 # Robyn 2014-07-11 17:56
Here in Australia we had a carbon tax introduced by the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard. But then big business in the form of Gina Rhineheart, Twiggy Forrest and of course Rupert Murdoch banded together to bring her down. Now we have Abbott who is not only fighting the entire nation to get rid of the carbon tax, but shovel more money to these amoral magnates. Gillard gave us a financial compensation to help us absorb the new tax and Abbott is bleeding us dry.
Please learn by Australia's misfortune, we do need to look to our future. Do not let the interests of big business dictate what you do. This is what is happening at the moment and it has us all on the knife edge of serious civil unrest. Do not let your country get hijacked. Stand up and and let you voice be heard and please ignore the Murdoch non news services. He destroyed our government and is now destroying our way of life.
+4 # soularddave 2014-07-11 21:02
Quoting Robyn:
He destroyed our government and is now destroying our way of life.

I feel your pain! He and his cronies have half our population so confused they don't know which way is *UP* without being told, and even then there are "deniers".
0 # geohorse 2014-07-14 10:47
My turn to send stuff to you!
-3 # woohooman 2014-07-15 11:28
In the real world, even premier alarmist institutions and the UN have admitted that the data show “global warming” actually stopped some 17 years ago.

Himalayan glaciers and Arctic ice are all thriving.

Yet the global warming dissonance is as blatant as ever this year with record cold temperatures in Antarctica.

The global warming brainwash is debunked by . . . reality.

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