Oregon’s successful mileage tax experiment

Recently I've been flogging the concept of a mileage tax, a system of per-mile road usage fees that over time can replace our dysfunctional gasoline tax as a way of funding transportation infrastructure. Although people have raised a lot of interesting objections, I'd like for now to skip ahead and simply describe Oregon's successful experiment with a mileage tax. A… read more →

Cap and trade (and energy policy, too)

For environmental policy wonks, few pieces of legislation have been as widely anticipated as what Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) released today in his draft American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (summary here). Waxman became chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this year -- taking over from Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) -- and vowed to push… read more →

Would you pay $2,000 per ton for your carbon footprint?

The other day, I used the fanciful example of $50,000 utility bills to illustrate how cap-and-rebate schemes can inspire energy efficiency and conservation. The numbers were deliberately exaggerated, but they highlight one of the features of cap-and-rebate that I like: the robustness of the system in the face of higher carbon prices. The political battle over climate change legislation is… read more →

Making sense of cap-and-rebate

Obama's cap and trade plan would rebate at least 80% of the revenue collected from carbon permits directly back to taxpayers. David Roberts asks a question that I think has been puzzling a lot of people: > Say you put a price on carbon and rebate the revenue. > Business costs rise, but they get that money back by raising… read more →

Getting rid of the gas tax, redux

The post on the mileage tax stirred up a lot of reaction, much of it negative. As it happens, the state of Oregon recently wrapped up a successful trial of a mileage tax system, so for the next few posts I'm going to be relying heavily on an excellent final report on the system (pdf) from the Oregon Department of… read more →

Hacks and handout-seekers hate Obama’s climate plan

Environmental Capital reports that Obama's approach to climate change legislation is foundering, because it's tied to an ambitious social agenda. Which is weird, because Obama's cap-and-trade proposal isn't tied to an ambitious social agenda. > Many Democrats are upset that President Obama's budget earmarks most of the $646 billion in cap-and-trade revenue for generic tax cuts and to help fund… read more →

Nobel Prize winning Energy Secretary knows his stuff

The new Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, spoke at an Alliance to Save Energy event in Washington last week and quickly showed why he's the right person for the job. Secretary Chu affirmed the Obama Administration's commitment to cap-and-trade legislation. He also emphasized the importance of energy efficiency in achieving ambitious carbon reduction goals. During public debate about climate policy,… read more →

Getting rid of the gas tax

This sort of flew under the radar, but a few weeks ago a federal commission floated the idea of eventually replacing the gas tax with a tax based on the number of miles driven each year. What happened next was odd: progressives, conservatives, and wonks banded together to proclaim a mileage tax to be a stupid idea. A mileage tax… read more →

The “cow tax”: not now, maybe not ever

In December, ranchers fell into a panic over a nonexistent E.P.A. proposal to tax methane emissions from cows. By February, panic was replaced by giggling: how could they every have worried over something so crazy as a "cow tax?" And now, to demonstrate how badly misplaced their fears were, a Democratic and Republican Senator have joined together to enshrine in… read more →

Getting down to business

Drafting legislation is often equated with making sausage. The process isn't pretty, but you have to go through it to get a bill out the other end. With Congressional prospects for climate legislation better than ever, Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) held a hearing last week on "The Role of Offsets in Climate Legislation." Markey now chairs a key subcommittee of… read more →
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