“Pacific Coast Collaborative” Sends Kitzhaber Back to the Future

Last week Governor John Kitzhaber joined with other political leaders in the Pacific Coast Collaborative to call for a carbon tax. This announcement coincided with the official opening of California’s “cap-and-trade” program for reducing carbon emissions.

It’s not clear why Gov. Kitzhaber thought it was a priority to fly to San Francisco to make this announcement. Apparently, he’s forgotten that the Oregon legislature considered a “cap-and-trade” program in 2009, and the bill couldn’t even get out of committee – despite the fact that Democrats had a supermajority that year. Like elected officials in most other states, Oregon legislators correctly determined that “cap-and-trade” is just a fancy way of saying “carbon tax,” and taxing energy would be enormously unpopular with voters.

The governor is also overlooking the fact that just last year, Oregon left the Western Climate Initiative, a multi-state coalition expressly established in 2007 to facilitate carbon regulation across the West and into Canada. Oregon departed for the same reason every other western state besides California did: Taxing carbon is a political loser. No one outside the far-left environmental movement cares.

The job of any governor is to be a leader. Calling for carbon regulations that have been rejected multiple times is the opposite of leadership. Surely Gov. Kitzhaber can find something to do that’s more relevant to Oregon’s future.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

Learn more at cascadepolicy.org.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Energy, Global Warming, Gov. Kitzhaber, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    Geez, by Kitzhaber’s own admission the Oregon economy is struggling noticeably for sometime now; and Oregon has been pursuing the niche, high cost clean energy supplies through heavy government subsidization for better part of a decade now. Despite the plea by OSU professors in yesterday’s Oregonian editorial section to elevate “Climate Change” to highest priority, there remains a host of problems with the “Climate Change” agenda making it a lower priority. One, Oregon, California, the U.S can not control world wide global carbon dioxide emissions; and other developing countries with far bigger populations are not going to cut their material well being in order fight the abstract cost/benefits of “Climate Change.” Two, nor should Oregon, California and the U.S. force more of its folks into poverty by restraining the cost of low cost fuel supplies (after nearly a decade of sub-par economic performance it should be clear the Green energy revolution is not much of a job creator but one that actually takes away from the economy. Oregon should instead celebrate and use its forests (low cost carbon sink) to help what it can to offset the state’s carbon dioxide emissions. Moreover, the governor shouldn’t belittle the gains in energy efficiency being brought by the technological gains of private industry. Energy users are constantly looking for ways to save on fuel and material costs through efficiency and innovation. By the comparison, Government continues to admit its own policies to date haven’t had sufficient impact. And who really wants to give Government the large powers it gains with the “Climate Change” agenda? The government solution is likely worst than the problem.

    My vote would be to cut back, or freeze, government and regulation until the state’s economy is performing just as well as the nation’s for a sustained period of time; and then, we could entertain a moderate tax on carbon based fuels while disposing of energy mandates and cap and trade studies. A tax is much more effective and efficient than more central control over the minutia of the energy industry as a Kitzhaber is prone to pursue. (Such a tax on carbon should be offset by reduction in other taxes on the peoples of Oregon.)

    • DavidAppell

      Since the US has historically put more (28%) of the extra carbon dioxide into today’s atmosphere and oceans than any other country, and since its per capita emissions dwarf any of the poor countries Bob Clark seems so worried about, it has a special responsibility — and ethical and moral obligation — to take the lead in solving the problem.

      And a carbon tax can be structured to return all of its revenue on an equal per capita basis. Those with low incomes would likely make more money than they owe.

      • crabman34

        Agreed. A revenue neutral carbon tax (let’s call it a fee instead, since it comes back) could create an incentive for families to reduce their own carbon consumption and realize increases in their take home pay.

        Think if it this way, a carbon fee is levied at the source of all carbon-based fuels (at the well, or the mine, or the fracking pipeline). That fee will inevitably drive up the prices of most everything, probably by not that much, depending on how the fee is implemented (gradually). BUT, that money that is collected is given back to taxpayers (adjusted for their region’s climate and energy consumption averages).

        So, if your annual expenditures go up by X, but you know that you will get approximately X back because the fee is returned, then you have an incentive to reduce your energy consumption by buying more efficient appliances or vehicles, or upgrading your house to solar or geothermal or just improving your insulation. If you are then consuming less carbon-based energy, you are hit will less of the fee’s impact but you still get your X carbon fee refund at the end of the year, based on the average consumption in your region.

        Carbon fees seem like something conservatives could get on board with. It isn’t really a tax because the government doesn’t get the revenue. It harnesses market forces to drive behavior changes that can save consumers money in the long-term (and for those that are willing to take risks, the short-term). And it doesn’t tell you what to do. A carbon fee is just an incentive, a reality-check that incorporates the real price of carbon into all goods and services that create emissions. It is less complicated than a cap and trade market, which requires regulators and oversight and accountability. Carbon fees could be implemented with a small staff and through a minor change in the tax code.

        But my argument notwithstanding, I just used like 8 blasphemous words in there, so I’m sure I’ll get attacked for it.

        • guest

          Know – go take a hand with appell at the public pillory, render a one digit salute and seize what you get in your vegetative state.

          • crabman34


        • mtnhimike

          Your an Idiot !

      • jim karlock

        Hey David,
        We are still waiting for proof that CO2 is causing climate disruption before we destroy the economy with another crackpot greenie scheme.

        BTW, when are you going to show us some real evidence that CO2 is harmful?

        • DavidAppell

          I haven’t read an original thought from you in 5 years.

          Yet again: define “harmful” — it is a term based on human values, that science cannot define or address.

          • guest

            Why ‘sign in’ to down-vote DA’s insipid post? Beats me because DA is notoriously 24/7 incredulity.

          • 3H

            Perhaps because you abused the privilege. Same reason, no doubt, that you have responses removed.

    • Granola girl

      Well said!!!

  • Oregon Engineer

    The whole Idea of “Carbon Tax” Is nothing more than wealth redistribution. The government will take more of what you have and give it to those who don’t. all of you said it, rob Peter to pay Paul then then give it back to Pauper. Makes as much sense as the carbon tax to increase costs of the resource then collect the “fee” from the consumers to return it to the consumers who are poor and can’t afford the higher energy cost. How dumb is that? Why not eliminate the middle man and not increase the cost and let people keep their money. Then each can decide to save the world or help thir neighbor. There is already a program sponsored by PGE and NW natural to allow consumers to pay an additionl “fee” to participate in the Warm programs (provide money to the poor who cannot pay their energy bill). Again why increase the cost of energy to collect a carbon tax to give the money back. Most of you won’t see a nickle of it. Why does there need to be a carbon tax?

    • DavidAppell

      Because carbon pollution has a cost — it causes damages to private and public resources. Shouldn’t users of a product pay the costs of those damages?

    • crabman34

      If you can’t read carefully and comprehend what is written, why bother explaining it again?

  • schaer

    a well paid idiot

  • mike

    This brave man is willing to risk personal attacks to do the right thing and I applaud him for it. Wake up America? We are slowing burning to death with global warming. Please.

    • guest

      Ditzhaber! You must be kldding. Period!

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