November 9, 2019

DON'T REBATE IT, CUT INCOME TAXES:

Don't Ban Fracking -- Pass A Carbon Tax Instead (Steve Chapman, November 8, 2019, National Memo)

Some of the candidates, unfortunately, are enamored of the old command-and-control approach to environmental protection: forbidding this and requiring that. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris support a ban on fracking, a method that has greatly increased U.S. oil and gas production. Almost all the candidates would end new oil and gas leases on federal lands. Raising vehicle fuel economy standards and setting a deadline for all vehicles to achieve zero emissions are common ideas.

These proposals all suffer from the same flaw: dictating purported solutions from on high, with little regard for side effects, instead of devising incentives for creative, inexpensive remedies. This approach guarantees that the cost will be higher than necessary and results worse.

It appeals to politicians, though, because it allows the illusion that major progress can be made without any sacrifice by voters, except maybe those who frack for a living. The assumption is that if people realize environmental improvement is not cost-free, they will run screaming from the room.

That theory has prevailed for decades. So I am startled but pleased to discover that this year, many Democratic candidates have decided to treat voters as intelligent people who can be persuaded to embrace optimal remedies.

The best of all is a carbon tax, which would raise the price of different fossil fuels to reflect the harm they do. Among the candidates who favor it are Sanders, Warren and Harris, as well as Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Julian Castro.

It would advance these purposes without draconian regulations, inflexible bans or cumbersome bureaucracy. The money collected could be rebated to every American -- yielding a net tax increase of zero.

Posted by at November 9, 2019 7:41 AM

  

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