Monday, October 23, 2017

Americans Want a Tax on Carbon Pollution, but How to Get One?

Nearly Eight in Ten Registered Voters Support Taxing and/or Regulating the Pollution that Causes Global Warming (Credit: Yale, George Mason U. Climate Change Communication) Click to Enlarge.
According to a new study published by Yale scientists in Environmental Research Letters, Americans are willing to pay a carbon tax that would increase their household energy bills by $15 per month, or about 15%, on average.  This result is consistent with a survey from last year that also found Americans are willing to pay an average of $15 to $20 per month to combat climate change.  Another recent Yale survey found that overall, 78% of registered American voters support taxing and/or regulating carbon pollution, including 67% of Republicans and 60% of conservative Republicans.

This raises the question – with such broad support across the political spectrum, why doesn’t America have a carbon tax in place by now?  Study co-author Anthony Leiserowitz noted the similarity to public support for many gun control policies:
Policy elites sometimes have ideological stances quite different than their constituents, even of their own party (e.g., background checks on gun purchases in the US which is overwhelmingly favored by Democrats and Republicans).
Public support often doesn’t translate into policy.  On the issue of gun control, Republican lawmakers are afraid that if they vote for even the most benign policies like requiring background checks for all gun purchases, the NRA will mobilize its supporters against them.  In primary races with relatively low turnout, with partisans more likely to vote, Republican lawmakers fear that mobilizing even a relatively small minority of opposition voters could cost them their jobs.  On the issue of climate change and carbon taxes, they have the same fear of the Koch network.

In short, the wealthy and powerful have more influence over American policy than average voters.

Read more at Americans Want a Tax on Carbon Pollution, but How to Get One?

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