Momentum for a Carbon Tax in the US?

(I've been extraordinarily busy both professionally and personally, so I apologize for not being able to update the blog for the past few months)

A carbon tax has been discussed on this blog several times, once about the introduction in Japan  and another about my publication work. Since then, the interest levels seem to have risen over a carbon tax in the US, both nationally and locally.

At federal level, POLITICO reports that debate is growing over a carbon tax, which is drawing push back by the coal and oil industry and manufacturing businesses. This push back is predictable given the expected financial burden on them, but the fact that they have issued a report to reaffirm their opposition may be a sign that a carbon tax may become a major topic of Congress in the coming several years.

The Obama administration has been silent about the issue, but my take is that it is focusing on regulatory approaches such as EPA's new GHG standards on power plants first, and therefore trying not to make extra noise on other issues at this point. Nevertheless, the idea on a carbon tax has been tossed around Congress with the ongoing debate to find a new revenue source to reduce budget deficit, so Congress may be able to introduce a carbon tax as a part of fiscal deal, not a part of comprehensive climate bills as the advocates have envisions.

(Source: Northwest Economic Research Center)

Meanwhile, a carbon tax is becoming a hot topic at state level in the West Coast. In Washington state, it became one of the major topics of discussion in its long-range energy vision called the Washington State Energy Strategy in 2011, and the Northwest Economic Research Center (NERC) evaluated and analyzed a potential carbon tax in Oregon (I've participated in both studies).

Furthermore, Washington State Governor Inslee recently signed into a comprehensive climate study bill, which will evaluate various ideas including a carbon tax according to my sources, and an advocacy group led by U of Washington Professor Bauman has launched a champagne to put a carbon tax bill on a ballot measure in the state. Oregon is also moving forward with several bills being tossed around the legislatures such as HB 2792 and HB 2874.

These movements yet to overcome a series of political hurdles and push back, but in a time with little hope for passing comprehensive climate legislation at Congress, this could be one of the few effective and realistic options left to curb GHG emissions in the US. 

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