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Have We Got a Carbon Tax ‘Dividend’ for You

Have We Got a Carbon Tax ‘Dividend’ for You

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  • Consider me confused about where the author gets his stats - according to the EIA (https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3), wind and solar accounted for 7.3% of total US electricity generation in 2017, more than 2x the figure quoted in this article (3%). My guess is he's factoring in fuel

    Consider me confused about where the author gets his stats - according to the EIA (https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3), wind and solar accounted for 7.3% of total US electricity generation in 2017, more than 2x the figure quoted in this article (3%). My guess is he's factoring in fuel used in transportation, but that's a foolish way of looking at it - electric cars are a small fraction of the US' auto fleet, so 7% of the share of electric cars used in the US would obviously reduce the overall percentage, but in a rather dishonest and misleading way.

    The author also somewhat arbitrarily picks wind and solar as the boogeymen for a pro-fossil fuel advocate, but it's nonsensical to totally ignore all the other low carbon / no carbon technologies that are out there, including most significantly hydropower (7.4% in 2017) and nuclear (20% in 2017) - combined, low carbon electricity generation accounted for 37% of the overall US energy mix in 2017. His "damning" comment on nuclear is that it would be a struggle to keep it (along with corn alcohol) at 10% of the America's energy supply. Again, he uses a misleading statistic, and he ignores the fact that nuclear is declining because of irrational political fear of nuclear plants, not because nuclear power generation isn't economically viable.

    Let's also set the record straight on the purpose of a carbon tax. Carbon (and accompanying pollution) is an externality to the economic system. The cost of pollution is borne by the population while the benefits are enjoyed by the producers of the pollution - a tragedy of the commons situation. A carbon tax shifts the burden of pollution onto the producer of the pollution and away from the population. Viewed in economic terms, this is simply an extension of the free market. The structure of the tax and the use of proceeds is an entirely different matter, but at its core a carbon tax should be viewed as an instrument of a free and capitalist market.

    Mark Mills is a partner at a venture fund focused on energy tech, which in his case refers to tech related to the oilfield services industry, so he has a clear bias here and I can't blame him for taking this position. But it's a misleading article driven by the same partisan garbage he's making fun of on the other side. I miss the days when cap and trade was a real discussion and possibility supported by both sides of the political spectrum; shame it never came to pass nationwide.

    Note - Opinions are my own and do not represent my employer's positions, strategies, business operations, or opinions.