Is The U.S. On The Verge Of Enacting A Carbon Tax?

During the State of the Union address earlier this week, President Barack Obama urged Congress to act on climate change before the effects begin to truly take hold and have an adverse effect on the nation. While some critics dismissed these statements as mere pandering to liberal interests, statements by U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Barbara Boxer of California on February 12 confirm that legislation is pending that would tackle these problems directly. While the details are being withheld until they are unveiled on February 14, some green advocates are suggesting that a carbon tax may be part of the deal.

“Under the legislation, a fee on carbon pollution emissions would fund historic investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. The proposal also would provide rebates to consumers to offset any efforts by oil, coal or gas companies to raise prices,” read a statement from Senator Sanders’ office on Tuesday. 

Several countries already have similar schemes, which place a levy on the amount of carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel consumption. For example, Australia is instituting an idea that would charge $23 per ton for emissions produced by polluters. This figure is set to change, according to the Australian government, when a trading exchange is established for companies to buy and sell “carbon credits” that allow them emit certain amounts of pollution without being taxed. A similar program was explored during the early days of the Obama administration in 2009, but resistance from Democrats in fossil fuel-rich states effectively scuttled the proposal.

When the details regarding the proposed legislation emerge, will cover the specifics. Given the divided political climate currently prevailing in Washington, D.C. only time will tell how this important battle will play out. 

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