Readers' forum: Tax use of fossil fuels


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  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Dec. 13, 2011 6:52 a.m.

    Benjaman - I will respectfully disagree with you on one aspect. 97 percent of scientist don't agree that human activity is causing climate change - they do agree that human activity is "contributing" to climate change. It is a subtle but very important difference. What is in debate is at what level.

    To Redshirt - the very same WSJ also just reported that pollution has been linked to a between 7 and 9 point decrease in measurable IQ. We can go all day long cherry picking those quotes that support our own personal agendas.

    I really find it hard to believe any rational person living in Utah or Salt Lake counties in the winter can't see man's contribution to the problem. Who cares about what we call the problem, it is clear there is a problem. Utah valley in the winter makes LA's 70's air look pristine.

    No we can follow the train of thought that the "Red" warning days are really just a marxist ploy to redistribute wealth, but to many others out there this is an addressable problem that can be fixed without complete and total political and economic revolution...... just sayin'

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Dec. 12, 2011 1:09 p.m.

    To "Benjaman | 11:39 a.m." when 100% of scientists can't produce a model that accurately models the climate and can't meet the 95% Confidence Interval that all other scientists have to meet, I tend to not trust what they claim.

    You have Forbes reporting "New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism"

    From the WSJ "The Climategate Whitewash Continues". That article starts out with the alarmists saying "Don't believe the 'independent' reviews.." You can read "Climate Science In Denial" also in the WSJ where they clearly state that "Global warming alarmists have been discredited, but you wouldn't know it from the rhetoric this Earth Day.."

    You can go to the source of the climate models, and their emails. They have great quotes such as the following:

    the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on itmight not be too clever in the long run.

    Basic problem is that all models are wrong not got enough middle and low level clouds.

    So, the question is do you believe the private emails of the researchers or do you believe politicians?

  • Benjaman SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 12, 2011 11:39 a.m.

    To RedShirt When 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing climate change, I tend to agree with them. However, you are entitled to form your own opinions. But even if you don't believe in human-caused climate change, there are lots of other good reasons to shift from burning fossil fuels to renewables, some of which I've included in my letter and my comments. Wouldn't it be nice to have clean air to breathe in our cities? Wouldn't it be nice if children with asthma or others with respiratory diseases didn't have to breathe things that aggravate their symptoms? Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't fight wars over energy resources? Wouldn't it be nice to be free of global petroleum politics and institute local solutions to our energy needs?

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Dec. 12, 2011 8:12 a.m.

    To "Benjaman | 12:31 p.m." unfortunately the science behind Climate Change is not settled. If we start taxing or limiting CO2 emissions when Water Vapor is the real culprit, would you call that a good thing? Better yet, what if there are solar cycles that are the driver for climate change, how can man control that?

    The problem isn't trying to do something good for the environment, the problem is that we don't have a model that even gives us a rough idea of the global changes that could be coming.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    Dec. 11, 2011 4:31 p.m.

    I'm looking forward to seeing gangs riding mopeds A Gas hits $15 a gallon in the next 20 years.

    There's no doubt that market forces will force most people to drive smaller and smaller vehicles, it's just that it will be too late for most of the damage to the atmosphere and oceans. Pity.

    All I ask is that naysayers don't deny thier opposition later. Get "global warming is a hoax" tatooed somewhere so your grandchildren know who to slap. Put it on your tombstone.

    Yep, my solar panels are great, I'm using God's fusion reactor and he is very generous. There's something holy about watching my meter spin backwards during the day.

    Hybrid cut my gas consumption to a quarter of what I used to use and I'm looking forward to my first electric car soon. Nissan Leaf is a cool car.

  • Benjaman SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 11, 2011 11:57 a.m.

    Under the fee and dividend proposal, the poor would receive reimbursement for anything they spent on carbon, unless they were using more carbon than the average person. If they use less than average, they would come out ahead.

    If we truly had a free market, there would be no subsidies or bail-outs. The oil deletion allowance and other favors granted the fossil fuel industry would have never happened. And if externalized costs were reflected in prices, we would have switched from fossil fuels to renewables some time ago.

  • Locke Rexburg, ID
    Dec. 10, 2011 9:50 p.m.

    Government artificially setting the price of any commodity, in this case via taxation, is a bad idea, whatever the motives behind it.

    In the case of fossil fuels, the poor would be hurt the most because the prices of everything would rise and transportation would become a rich man's privilege.

    The free market is already working toward alternatives to fossil fuels and reducing their use. I say let it work -- that is the only sustainable way.

  • Benjaman SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 10, 2011 12:43 p.m.

    Like higv, Dektol, RedShirt and Mountanman and the rest of the world, I do not want to pay any unnecessary taxes. We already pay taxes for the pollution-related healthcare costs of those who can't afford insurance, an immense military budget, FEMA and the regulation of pollution. All of these taxes would be defrayed or even eliminated with a tax on carbon. I stand by my statement that a carbon fee and dividend makes sense in terms of both economy and quality of life.

  • Benjaman SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 10, 2011 12:31 p.m.

    The solution proposed is not cap and trade (a la Chicago Climate Exchange), but a much simpler and more transparent fee-and-dividend proposal which would not increase the size of government. Rather, it would return all revenues to households in equal measure. Those who use less carbon would pay less upfront, and would receive their share of the fees on carbon in return. There would be an incentive for businesses to be more energy efficient and development and implementation of cleaner technologies would be stimulated. Renewables are already very close to being competitive, and with a slight push they could be the preferred choice of energy sources.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 10, 2011 12:05 p.m.

    "who started the Chicago Carbon Exchange, and why? "

    Don't know, I've never heard of it. I'm much more interested in the science anyway. The politics of energy/environmental policy is a different issue.

  • KM Cedar Hills, UT
    Dec. 10, 2011 10:01 a.m.

    I meant the Chicago Carbon Exchange.

    Esquire - Did you really say "bowing" when talking about fossil fuels? We do have the 'bower-in-chief', you know?

  • KM Cedar Hills, UT
    Dec. 10, 2011 9:59 a.m.

    I'll have to take your word that you are seriously sincere. Now, who started the Chicago Climate Exchange, and why?

  • Dektol Powell, OH
    Dec. 10, 2011 8:17 a.m.

    Tax them higher and watch your food costs skyrocket. Modern farming relies on fossil fuels from preparation to harvest to delivery to market. Adding more taxes is shooting yourselves in the foot.

  • Corn Dog New York, NY
    Dec. 10, 2011 1:43 a.m.

    @The Real Maverick | 9:10 a.m

    China is spending 20 times as much on new fossil fuel facilities as they are on green tech.

    Most of Brazil's renewable energy (34% of total energy) comes from hydropower. How many new dams do you want to put on the Colorado, Yampa, and Green rivers?

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 10, 2011 12:04 a.m.

    The change from using the term global warming to global climate change doesn't mean it's not warming or that global warming is a lie. It's just that there's so much more to climate than the thermometer. There's sea ice extent, and flood/drought frequency, and a host of other things. It's not just "oh so it'll be a degree warmer?". That's why they switched to climate change; because it's a term that covers all the other aspects as well.

  • KM Cedar Hills, UT
    Dec. 9, 2011 11:21 p.m.

    First I think we have to be honest about the premise of the letter; its "global warming" not "global climate change." Because there was the need to re-phrase the original lie because the climate gets warmer and then gets cooler, and has done this for time immemorial. So it became necessary to play both sides of the fence to cover all the bases for the marxist redistribution program of the progressives. Whew! Its so twisted.

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    Dec. 9, 2011 6:03 p.m.

    What is worse fossil fuel spells or the smell of Manure from farms. Pocatello has a place that causes things not to smell good in town too. There are a few bad smells . Good thing people make things cleaner. And I am glad there is fossil fuels to drive our cars around. Somone knows something about some of the small towns on here as well.

  • Brother Chuck Schroeder A Tropical Paradise USA, FL
    Dec. 9, 2011 12:21 p.m.

    Thanks to Bob Bennett and the one that filled his seat, Mike Lee, along with their "puppet master", the Koch Brother's, our current combustion of fuels brings with it the cumulative costs of treating respiratory and other diseases, waging war to secure energy resources all around the Middle East, smog, acid rain, and species extinction not to mention the astronomical costs of climate disasters. Ani't capitalism grand?.

    That's why it's really going to heat up in Washington DN come 2012, as these Tea Party and GOP plus RINO's slide their feet cross the floor, as they head for the door, all voted out like Bob Bennett.

    Merry Christmas.

    Happy New Year.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 9, 2011 11:15 a.m.


    This plan calls for giving 100% of the money collected back to the taxpayers in the form of a subsidy. So the only people who would pay more in the end for energy are energy hogs. Those who use very little energy might actually be getting money from this plan.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 9, 2011 11:07 a.m.

    Fossel fuels are a finite resource that will run out, and are a fuel that when we buy it goes to countries and parts of the world that support terrorism.

    Given that, we ought to waste less and use them more efficiently.

    Double the taxes on oil, but at the end of the year, give this money back to the American people, in the form of a check for every one that lives here.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Dec. 9, 2011 10:44 a.m.

    We already pay taxes on fossil fuels. Its called federal and state gasoline and diesel taxes and depending on which state you live in they are between %.75/ gal and about $.30/gal. Would you have us pay double taxes? Of course you would!

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Dec. 9, 2011 9:10 a.m.

    @ higv, the air is perfectly clean in a rural Idaho town of 200. That may be so. But maybe you need to get out a little. And maybe you should take note of how things were in the past before there were efforts to clean up the environment. Years ago I was in an industrial town in France and the air pollution from a local factory was so bad that a brief visit would leave black particulates in ones eyes and nostrils. I remember the Cuyahoga River catching on fire. We can go on and on, so I say, if the government can cause industry to not pollute and take us to better sources of energy, I'm all for it.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Dec. 9, 2011 9:10 a.m.

    Why is China spending twice as much on green tech as we are?

    How does Brazil have en economy based mostly on renewable resources?

    We have a lot of catching up to do....

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 9, 2011 8:48 a.m.

    @higv: Look up "externality" in any basic economic text. Free markets only allocate resources efficiently when the cost of a product to a consumer captures all of the costs of its production and use. Externaliized costs create market failure because price sends incomplete signals to the consumer. As the letter writer correctly pointed out, fossil fuels are underpriced because the cost to the consumer (paid at the pump, say) does not reflect the true cost of the product. In effect, consumers are being subsidized. There are many ways to internalize external costs so that market price more accurately reflects actual cost. Taxes on emissions, programs such as Cap and Trade, and commodity markets dealing in pollution credits are some. Some are better than others. Polluting producers can internalize costs by installing pollution controls. But unless all players in an industry do the same thing, the conscientious producers will be at a competitive disadvantage because they will have higher prices compared to their less conscientious competitors who do not act to internalize their costs. As Garrett Harden observed in "The Tragedy of the Commons," conscience is self-eliminating.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Dec. 9, 2011 7:52 a.m.

    To "Ben J. Mates" I think that you are a little bit late on asking for a tax on fossil fuels that are burned.

    The majority of fossil fuels that are burned comes in the form of gasoline and diesel fuels. Those already are taxed based on consumption by both the Federal and State Governments.

    If you want to clean up the air from the power plants, lets get a bunch of new nuclear power plants up and running. They can be the most resource friendly power source out there.

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    Dec. 9, 2011 7:41 a.m.

    Another way to hinder progression. thing is were will the money come from when people don't use things because of higher taxes? The air is perfectly clean right now just another way to control lives.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Dec. 9, 2011 6:54 a.m.

    There are some good ideas here. The thing is, we need to get serious about this problem and not keep bowing to the established special interests who want to preserve the status quo. Had we taken our current approach in the past, we would be living in clouds of coal emissions (see Dickens) and our food would more often be adulterated (see Sinclair Lewis). Let's move forward, folks.