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Mitigating Climate Change – Regulation or Taxation?

Cap and Trade Protests - For Good Reason!
Cap and Trade Protests – For Good Reason!

As Americans are becoming more informed on the causes of climate change, they are also getting a better idea on what needs to be done about it and what part they have to play. They are also forming some pretty strong opinions on what the government ought to be doing in order to encourage, or in some cases force, changes to a cleaner energy supply.

The government has a couple of tools it can use mitigating climate change. One way is to “encourage” change by taxation, that is, by carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems. The other way is to “force” change by regulation, such as the recent Corporate Average Fuel Economy [CAFE] regulations on vehicle fuel economy, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the automotive sector.

A recent poll conducted by Duke University indicates that 64% of Americans are in favor of mitigating climate change by regulations controlling greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, factories, and automobiles. On the other hand, just 29% are in favor of taxation.

“The survey shows strikingly high numbers of Americans accept that the climate is changing, but support for market-based approaches such as a carbon tax and a system of tradable emissions are not popular among survey respondents,” said Sarah Adair, co-author and associate in research at Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Part of the problem is that most people have little to no knowledge or understanding of how taxation schemes would work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reflected by the 36% of Americans who had no opinion either way. Another part of the problem with taxation, though, is that it’s too easy for large companies to find loopholes to exploit.

The market-based approach to mitigating climate change leaves too much to the lawyers, in my opinion.

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  1. That’s easy. NEITHER regulation or taxation. We can’t afford higher energy costs. What we need to do is whatever it takes to get back down to $2/gallon gas.

    • @rock0267 $2/gal gasoline? Even if we ignore the elephant in the room, it’ll still step on us! What we need to for consumers to drive the change to a carbon-free energy future. $2/gal gasoline is a giant step backwards.

      • @bnjroo  @rock0267 riiiight. I’m guessing you want $6/gallon gas. WRONG!!! We can’t afford this. I don’t know where YOU live, but we don’t have buses, cabs, subways or anything else around here. We need to drive to survive. People MUST drive. Get over yourselves. We NEED $2/gallon gas again. The economy needs it.

        • @rock0267 well, in NJ we’re paying about $3.60 or so, and I drive a 2005 Toyota RAV4 about 10,000 miles per year. $2/gal gasoline would certainly help my personal economy, but is still a very short-term goal in view of the long-term consequences.
          we’ve become addicted to petroleum, and we’ve gone to war and even raped our own soil to feed it. withdrawal is painful only for a little while.
          costs are only high in the beginning. just like when people switched from horses to the Model T. there were hundreds of people who said exactly what you are saying. “we can’t afford a Model T when we have to pay to feed the horse.” Today, people are saying “we can’t afford solar power because we’re spending too much money on oil.”
          We’re losing sight of the fact that renewable energy is getting cheaper every day, not only on a $/W basis, but also the long-term costs associated with health and climate change.

        • @bnjroo ‘raped our own soil”? really?  LOL.   I have no problem with solar power, as long as it is cheaper than oil. And what do you plan on doing at nighttime? The problem is that solar must take a giant leap forward to be able to handle the power needed for homes/cars (especially homes). We canNOT make things more expensive to serve your little transition from oil. We must do what we can to keep the price of gas as low as possible AND work on solar, nuclear, whatever we can. Personally, I would have no problem if every car had a little nuclear reactor in it. We are not talking much. It could be very, very small and be enough to power a car or a home. It could last for decades. THAT would be great. I just don’t think solar is going to have what we need if we were to leave oil behind. Heck, this country has at least 200 years of coal and we aren’t using it like we should. We are shipping all the cheap energy (coal) to China and Japan.

        • @rock0267 solar IS cheaper than oil, and backup storage only lasts so long. I’m not saying we have to just stop using fossil fuels right this second, but there are options to make power generation cleaner. There’s no perfect solution, and certainly no free solution.
          as far as raping goes, have you been living under a rock? Fracking is contaminating the water, oil spill in the Gulf is still washing onshore, coal is the dirtiest substance on the planet to burn, and the list goes on. I suppose these are acceptable risks?

        • @bnjroo YES, absolutely. First of all, fracking is a God-send. It has drastically lowered the price of natural gas enough to reduce monthly heating expenses AND perhaps allow for cars to convert to this form of energy for the foreseeable future. I live in an area of a lot of fracking and, honestly, we have had no problems at all from water issues. Stop believing the hollywood types. Solar is absolutely NOT cheaper than oil. Where do you get that?? Yes, the sun is free, but it costs many thousands of dollars to set up the panels. Even then, the power from them only supplements the electric bill. Again, leaps of technology must happen to solar to make it viable to serve our needs. The oil spill in the gulf was just a drop in the bucket compared to the size of the oceans. It looked much worse than it was. People still visit those beaches all of the time. Nobody is asking for a free solution, but it can’t cost any more (hopefully less) than what we pay now. We are already at the breaking point in what we can afford.

        • @bnjroo and coal is CHEAP. That’s what we need. Have no delusions. We are shipping overseas exactly what we would have burned here anyway. I live in a coal state, they just reported yesterday that exports to China are 1,290% of what they were just in the past 5 years. Same as the Keystone pipeline. Canada has already stated that if they don’t ship it to us, China will buy the oil. Why don’t we take advantage of this cheaper energy?? Make no mistake, the oil in the ground AND the coal in the mines is already burned up and in the air for all intents and purposes. It’s just a matter of how long it takes to use it. We might as well benefit instead of selling it to others and we pay more. That’s just stupid.

        • @rock0267 that is an interesting idea, selling it to others to burn. which doesn’t make economic or ecological sense. can’t argue with you there.

        • @bnjroo I’m sorry if it doesn’t make sense to you. But that’s what is happening. And really, would you expect anything else? Coal, oil, natural gas remain valuable commodities. They will not stop being valuable to somebody with money to spend on them. Even if the US stopped using it today, it will all get eventually sold to other countries as they are willing customers to the companies that produce it. It’s just business. Do you think that if we find alternatives that actually work, that the rest of the oil and coal will stay in the ground?  Of course not.

        • @bnjroo of course it makes economic sense. Do you think they have increased exports by over 1,000% if they were losing money on the deals????

        • @rock0267 so why aren’t we using it here? exports make money, right? if this is so, then why are we still suffering this stupid economic slump?
          funny you mentioned exports, since there are some OPEC countries looking to increase their solar capacity. why? so they can continue to export their oil and make a profit.

        • @bnjroo Are you questiioning the profitability of exports?? Really, seriously? Do you think they would sell this stuff at a loss? Why are we not selling it here. I gfuess you haven’t heard of the newest bear in the woods…the EPA. They have severely cracked down on the American power plants’ ability to use coal. Plus, with the cheaper alternative of natural gas, many of these power plants are shifting to that instead of coal. If the price went up again, they would probably shift back (IF the EPA will allow it) What’s your point about OPEC? Again, nobody has  a problem with solar IF it can provide the exact same power use that coal provides AND it is no more expensive. If it can fulfull those two requirements, bring it on. If not, forget it.

        • @rock0267 My point about exports and OPEC is the “WHY”
          if the exports are making money, then what are we complaining about? why are you worried about $2/gal gasoline if we’re making money exporting the stuff? and if we’re making money on exports, then where’s the benefit?

        • @bnjroo What are you talking about??? What do I care if the exports are making money. That  doesn’t help ME (the consumer). We need $2/gallon a gas to help the American people survive. Any benefits are strictly to the energy producers. That’s fine. I have no problem with that. My points are 1) we need cheaper energy HERE to help US. Cheaper gas would be a great way to go. 2). Your arguments about going away from oil/coal will NEVER happen. If we don’t use it here, it WILL be burned by somebody on this planet (probably the Chinese). Therefore, it is destined to be pollution at some point or another. Why are we making our own people suffer in the time being. Yes, solar would be great IF and only if it can produce the same power useage that we currently have and it is cheap or cheaper than what we have now.  You are confusing the two arguments.

        • @rock0267 didn’t mean to confuse the points, but that’s exactly the point isn’t it? is there any simple solution that improves the economy and keeps that stuff in the ground where it belongs? i haven’t heard of one.

        • @bnjroo and my ultimate point is it will never stay in the ground. NEVER. It is ALL destined to be burned or used in some fashion or another as long as there are customers who need the product. They may not be here. They might be Chinese, or Russians, or Japanese. Whatever. It won’t stay in the ground forever. We might as well take advantage of the cheap energy it produces to help our own economy.


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