Tipped off by a Sierra Club Action Alert, I reviewed the summary of Michigan Representative John Dingell’s draft carbon tax legislation & submitted the following comment.

Representative Dingell:

Thank you for sponsoring this important legislation that will begin to tell the truth about the long-term, externalized costs of burning hydrocarbons. I fully support the economy-wide “cap & trade” greenhouse gas emissions limit, the “carbon tax” on hydrocarbon fuels, the phase-out of the “McMansion Subsidy” for new, non-LEED homes & the tax-shifting mechanisms that will make these macroeconomic changes affordable for U.S. consumers. Bravo!

I do, however, take exception with the tax exemption for biofuels, which seems to me like a concession to the agribusiness lobby. While I vigorously support moves toward energy independence for the United States for reasons of national security & environmental protection, I do not believe that biofuels provide the significant environmental win that warrants full exemption. The analyses I’ve read indicate that while some carefully selected biofuels decrease overall greenhouse gas emissions through carbon re-uptake from plant growth & reduced CO2 from combustion, all still release CO2. As such, they should be taxed, even if at a lower rate than fossil fuels. This builds the shared cost of global warming into the fuel price, making non-polluting energy sources not prone to these economic externalities (such as wind, solar, hydrogen) more economically competitive.

Please vigorously pursue passage of this legislation, which will begin to force the U.S. to shoulder its responsibility for the potential global climate crisis as well us catch us up to the European nations who have successfully used such environmental tax-shifting techniques to simultaneously protect the environment & spur economic innovation.