CLIMATE CHANGE

      Like most Americans, I am convinced the climate appears to be warming.  I am not convinced that human use of carbon-based fuels is the only cause of the warming – or whether, for example, changes in sunspot activity or changes in deep ocean currents are also contributing factors.  But I am reasonably convinced that human use of carbon-based fuels is likely at least a material contributor to climate change.

      The problem deserves our careful attention, but a bunch of new regulations and giving more regulatory powers to the EPA seem to not be the answer.  I am pretty sure that some American manufacturers have relocated manufacturing to other countries in order to escape the costs of new and expensive technology mandated by the EPA that would eliminate X-tons of air pollutants per unit of production.  So rather than reduce the air-pollutants by X-tons with the new and costly technology, in the foreign country the manufacturer producing the same unit of production now generates twice the air pollution.  In other words, the EPA has caused American manufacturing jobs to be shipped overseas, where the same products are now manufactured with much greater harm to the environment.

      Intuitively, then, if possible we should be looking for solutions that do not involve, or minimally involve the EPA and further onerous regulations.  The carbon fee and rebate solution advocated by the Citizens Climate Lobby seems to afford at least a good starting point for further discussion.  They have a nice website of their own, but in a nutshell, their proposal appears to include the following principal elements:

1.   Place a steadily rising fee per ton of CO2 equivalent emissions on all fossil fuels at the wellhead, mine, or port of entry.

2.   One hundred percent of the fee minus administrative costs are held in a trust fund that is then distributed back to households each month – apparently on some sort of per person or per household basis.  The Citizens Climate Lobby claims that about 2/3 of the households will break even or receive more in rebates than they pay in higher prices for products.

3.   Impose import fees on products from countries without an equivalent carbon fee, and give rebates to US companies exporting to those countries to protect American jobs and discourage further relocation of manufacturing operations to those countries.

Their thought is that such a fee will capture and reflect the true cost to the environment of fossil fuels used in the production of the products we consume, and will over time result in more efficient consumption decisions.

6/21/17 ADDENDUM:  Bloomberg.com yesterday reported ExxonMobil, Total S.A. (the very large French integrated oil & gas company), Michael Bloomberg and others have joined a "Climate Leadership Council" that appears to advocate a similar carbon tax, but with a dividend/refund to "taxpayers" rather than households, and without any mention of a rebate to protect U.S. exporters selling overseas to countries without a similar carbon tax/dividend program.  They also apparently advocate "the U.S. [then] safely rolls back climate regulations" --- whatever that means.