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Summary of Dingell’s Proposed Carbon Taxes
Dingell, 81, has posted a summary of his proposed Carbon Tax legislation on his congressional Web site, but here are the basics:
- A $50-per-ton tax on carbon dioxide emissions from coal, petroleum products and natural gas, to be phased in over five years and then adjusted for inflation.
- A 50-cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline, jet fuel and kerosene on top of the current gas tax, also phased in over five years and thereafter adjusted for inflation. This provision would include exemptions for diesel and biofuels that do not include petroleum. For biofuels that are blended with petroleum, only the petroleum portion would be taxed.
- A phased reduction of the mortgage interest tax deduction on homes larger than 3,000 square feet, and elimination of the deduction for homes over 4,200 square feet. Exemptions would be made for historic homes built before 1900, for farm houses, and for any homes that are certified carbon neutral or whose owners purchase enough carbon credits to eliminate the carbon footprint of their home.
Carbon Tax Proposals Get Mixed Reviews
Economists tend to love the idea of carbon taxes as a less bureaucratic and more efficient strategy for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and slowing global warming than, say, so-called cap-and-trade systems. Voters, on the other hand, are rarely enthusiastic about new taxes, and a 50-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax after the run up of prices at the pump over the past year or two is likely to receive a cold reception among consumers and their political representatives.
Dingell’s friends have warned him that his proposals are “political poison” while his critics have accused him of playing politics with an urgent environmental issue. They say Dingell is offering legislation he knows won’t pass to distract from, or possibly derail, proposals that would require automakers to increase vehicle fuel economy.
Dingell dismisses the criticism and says he is just trying to spark "an intelligent discussion of the whole question."
Dingell Claims Carbon Tax Proposals are Fair
According to Dingell, phasing out the mortgage interest deduction on large homes would affect only about 10 percent of homeowners nationwide, and he told The Associated Press that “it’s only fair” to tax people who buy large homes in the suburbs and contribute to urban sprawl that also leads to more driving and greenhouse gas emissions.
No one, including Dingell, expects his proposals to sail through Congress unchanged. They will have to pass through another committee before reaching the House floor for a vote, and even then they could be modified with amendments or have to do battle with other legislation passed by the Senate.
If Dingell’s tax proposals do become law, the revenue will be used for many different purposes, including highway construction, mass transit, Social Security, health programs, and to help poor people pay their energy bills.
If you want to tell Congressman Dingell what you think of his proposed legislation, you can find an e-mail form on his congressional Web site. And while you’re at it, you may want to let your own U.S. representative know what you’re thinking.