Should we swap energy subsidies for a carbon tax?

Via @TheBTI - Over the past few months there has been increased talk in Washington of taxing carbon emissions. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) has introduced legislation, while former Rep. Bob Inglis has proposed replacing today’s subsidies with a carbon tax. 

The view among most economists is that a tax would be more efficient at reducing emissions than subsidizing clean energy. Over the years, Harvard economist Greg Mankiw, an advisor to George W. Bush and now Mitt Romney, along with President Ronald Reagan’s economic advisers, Martin Feldstein and Arthur Laffer, have all endorsed carbon taxes, along with environmental economists, like Harvard’s Robert Stavins. 

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Hearing on Lacey Act merits & flaws includes Adam Gardner of @guster- no stranger to Capitol Hill. @GlennHurowitz offers some background: 

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Richard Muller, last on Hill for GOP skeptics’ climate hearing, back Monday for Dem. Ed Markey:

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Darren Samuelsohn @politico explores chilly reception for Academy climate team on Capitol Hill http://politi.co/mL4U96 Love Gingrich’s finessing compared to climate view in 2007. Video interview here: http://nyti.ms/kARDaE

Richard Muller, a Berkeley physicist, presented this graph at a hearing called by Republican lawmakers on climate science and policy. Muller, long a skeptic of data pointing to a warming world, has run analysis that confirms the reliability of those data.
Here, as posted on Dot Earth, are Muller’s initial conclusions (the study has yet to undergo peer review and publication: 

We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.
Many US stations have low quality rankings according to a study led by Anthony Watts. However, we find that the warming seen in the “poor” stations is virtually indistinguishable from that seen in the “good” stations. [I inserted link for context.]
The world temperature data has sufficient integrity to be used to determine global temperature trends.
Despite potential biases in the data, methods of analysis can be used to reduce bias effects well enough to enable us to measure long-term Earth temperature changes. Data integrity is adequate. Based on our initial work at Berkeley Earth, I believe that some of the most worrisome biases are less of a problem than I had previously thought.
[Read the rest…]

Richard Muller, a Berkeley physicist, presented this graph at a hearing called by Republican lawmakers on climate science and policy. Muller, long a skeptic of data pointing to a warming world, has run analysis that confirms the reliability of those data.

Here, as posted on Dot Earth, are Muller’s initial conclusions (the study has yet to undergo peer review and publication: 

  • We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.
  • Many US stations have low quality rankings according to a study led by Anthony Watts. However, we find that the warming seen in the “poor” stations is virtually indistinguishable from that seen in the “good” stations. [I inserted link for context.]
  • The world temperature data has sufficient integrity to be used to determine global temperature trends.
  • Despite potential biases in the data, methods of analysis can be used to reduce bias effects well enough to enable us to measure long-term Earth temperature changes. Data integrity is adequate. Based on our initial work at Berkeley Earth, I believe that some of the most worrisome biases are less of a problem than I had previously thought.

[Read the rest…]

Innovation Caught in Budget Battle

There’s growing evidence that the political battle over the budget is threatening efforts to ramp up America’s capacity to push the frontiers of energy sciences and stimulate innovation. Click here for relevant background on Dot Earth.

Some useful background has been assembled by Sara Mansur of The Breakthrough Institute (this via Jesse Jenkins):


Budget Battle, Part I: President Obama’s Budget Would Invest in Energy Innovation  http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/2011/02/president_obamas_budget_would.shtml
Budget Battle, Part II: House GOP Budget Proposal Slashes Energy Innovation Investments http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/2011/02/house_gops_proposed_continuing.shtml
Budget Battle, Part III: Senate Democrats’ Aim to Invest in Clean Energy, Innovation, Infrastructure http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/2011/02/senate_democrats_agenda_aims_t.shtml

While we know that limited and direct public investments in technology innovation have been part of America’s long, bipartisan history of economic leadership (see our “Where Good Technologies Come From" and "Post-Partisan Power" reports), the current budget fight is unfortunately shaping up to split parties over whether or not to make sweeping cuts across all agencies and programs, including those that play the most central role in supporting American innovation and entrepreneurialism, or to make more targeted cuts to programs that amount to wasteful spending while preserving or even increasing funding for key innovation-related programs. We’ll see where Senate Republicans come down in this, but the House GOP leadership has clearly staked their position with HR1. It’s a position that belies the party’s long history of support for innovation and technology, and hopefully it’s one that changes as this debate progresses. (Voices like David Brooks, George Will, Jim Dipeso, and Steve Hayward offer a different, wiser, Conservative vision, although one that clearly hasn’t sunk in yet with the House GOP leadership).
It’s an important fight, one that our nation’s economic and energy futures may hinge on. Sara’s series gets into the gory details. 
(I also have a longer look at the broader energy and climate implications of the House-passed budget resolution at the Energy Collective here: http://bit.ly/HR1_Energy_Climate)