The Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday that Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has decided to rule out a carbon tax or an increase in gas taxes to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. To explain his decision, the Congressman said
“I simply cannot support these policies at a time when families in my district are dealing with record gas prices, high levels of unemployment, a home foreclosure crisis and rising food costs.”
The proposal would have charged $50 per ton of CO2 emissions and raised prices for gas and jet fuel by 50 cents, while also introducing measures to quell suburban sprawl.
It’s too bad to see these measures “off the table for now” as Dingell put it, but the fact is, this kind of proposal is a long-shot anyway, and Bush himself has recently referred to new taxes as “the wrong way” to take on the climate crisis. Dingell is not licked, however, as he is still working on “cap and trade” legislation that he will introduce sometime this year.
Climate is becoming a prominent topic on Capitol Hill these days. In fact, the “Climate Security Act” sponsored by Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA) is pending in the Senate and could come up on the Senate floor in June. This proposal aims to cut emissions from key sectors like transport and the power industry by 19 percent in 12 years and 71 percent by 2050. Additionally, as we’ve reported here, Bush himself has even come out in favor of keeping the planet from heating up.
With Democrats, Republicans, and even Independents backing action, the fight against the climate crisis has attained a rare status as a “tri-partisan” issue. Even if proposals differ, at least there’s consensus that something must be done, and that is a huge step in the right direction. So keep at it, Congressman Dingell, and don’t feel too discouraged. While gloom and doom can often dominate the climate issue, I certainly see a bit of light peeking through the carbon dioxide.