Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Energy
Department of Energy
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8/23/18  3:06 pm
Commenter: J. Christopher Wiegard, Citizens Climate Lobby volunteer

Carbon Price is the key

I share the goal of accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.  I fear, however, that we may not be able to make this happen in a timely way without pricing carbon.

The government of Virginia has the ability to price carbon within the State, but it is very unlikely to happen while the Republican Party holds a majority in the General Assembly. It also is not a course of action that can be done with high effectiveness on a state by state basis, because there is a danger for businesses to flee from a carbon price to a different state that is more willing to encourage fossil fuels. It would be far more effective as a national law, passed by Congress- especially because Congress would have the authority to add a "border adjustment" to the law, to impose tariffs on foreign nations that might attempt to exploit our price on carbon by selling carbon intensive products to us. 

I apologize if this seems wonky, or pessimistic. But for thirty years we have shared good intentions regarding climate change and accomplished nearly nothing in terms of our carbon emissions.  Good intentions alone accomplish nothing. Using taxpayer money to push renewable energy accomplishes little and enrages free market conservatives. Consider tobacco as a model. For 30 years we put danger labels on the packaging and few people stopped smoking. Then we sharply lifted the price for tobacco, and adult smoking rates quickly dropped under 25%.  Results, not good feelings, are the objective here. Norfolk will be under water in 80 years if we continue to pretend that a gradual process of renewable energy growth will be adequate to address climate change. We must have an explosion of growth for wind and solar, not an incremental rate. 

CommentID: 66488