Let’s Stay Away from the Carbon Tax Debate
Two House Republicans have added new energy to the hotly contested carbon tax debate. Carlos Curbelo’s recently introduced Market Choice Act and Steve Scalise’s anti-carbon tax resolution suggest that moderate and staunch conservatives may disagree on the effectiveness of a price on carbon.
While an overwhelming majority of Democrats feel a carbon tax is necessary to combat the effects of climate change, many Republicans argue that it would stifle economic growth and hinder the country’s progression towards energy independence. These conflicting views have driven a wedge between Democrats and Republicans on issues that should be overwhelmingly bipartisan.
The carbon tax has been used as a litmus test to determine one’s outlook on environmental issues. In today’s polarizing atmosphere, one’s stance on this issue often determines their status as a venerable steward or a pollution enthusiast – there’s no in between. Rather than continuing this divisive debate, we should look to other environmental issues to seek out common ground and generate positive change.
The intensity of the carbon tax debate has resulted in the overshadowing of other important environmental issues. Matters such as clean energy technology, innovation in agriculture, and local land conservation receive little attention thanks to excessive focus on abstract, polarizing issues like the carbon tax and climate change.
While the carbon tax and climate change certainly warrant consideration as important issues, we must also address the environmental issues that garner less attention in the intensely partisan political arena. Exclusive focus on hot-button issues like the carbon tax only drives opposing sides further apart and reduces the possibility for productive dialogue and cooperative solutions.
Polls consistently show that large majorities of Republicans and Democrats agree on issues such as innovation in clean energy and growth in its use. Instead of bickering solely about the carbon tax, which does little to solve other pressing environmental concerns, elected officials should work towards sensible solutions, such as creating an open and competitive energy sector. An all-of-the-above energy market rid of subsidies would facilitate growth in renewables, cut emissions, and also lead the country towards energy independence. This policy, if pursued, would generate strong support from both Republicans and Democrats.
The American Conservation Coalition understands the pitfalls behind the carbon tax debate and recognizes the importance of other environmental issues. The organization has rightfully refused to take a position on the carbon tax and has instead chosen to emphasize other matters that present opportunities for consensus solutions. If more adopt this approach, perhaps the focus of environmental conversations will shift from defeating the opposing side to defeating the problems that face us.