What Exxon’s Carbon Tax Means to Your Health, Your Wallet and Our Planet.

On June 20, 2017, the Climate Leadership Council published a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, writing, “The Founding Members of the Climate Leadership Council believe that America needs a consensus climate solution that bridges partisan divides, strengthens our economy and protects our shared environment.” This got a lot of attention on Tuesday, since it appeared that the oil industry had finally gone green. It’s hard to argue against a plan put together with climate activists, such as Steven Chu, Michael Bloomberg and The Nature Conservancy, that is also backed by oil giants and corporations, like Exxon Mobil, Shell and General Motors. After all, if we’re going to stop the accumulation of carbon in our atmosphere, and the terrible toll that takes on the health of our planet, our animals and ourselves, then we’ll have to work together to do it.

The CLC promotes protecting our planet with a Carbon Tax and Carbon Dividend. The carbon tax will make gasoline and electricity more expensive. Higher gasoline and utility bills should encourage energy efficiency and lower usage by individuals. The dividend helps Americans to afford the higher costs. The ad boasts that the “bottom 70% of Americans would be financially better off” as a result of the carbon dividends. As Ratan Tata writes (on the members’ page of the CLC website), “The Climate Leadership Council’s plan for a Carbon Tax whose revenue is rebated to all citizens combines a powerful market incentive for emission reductions and increased innovation with a basic commitment to fairness. It has much potential not only in the United States and Europe, but also in India.”

Bernie Sanders advocated for a Carbon Tax during his Presidential bid. So, has the oil industry gone green, or is there…

A Devil in the Details

Another “interdependent pillar” of the CLC carbon program is to roll back carbon regulations, which are “no longer necessary” (according to the ad). The plan would also strip the EPA of its powers, repeal the Clean Power Plan and limit any liability for emitters.

Click to access President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. (Good luck finding information on protecting the environment on 45’s EPA website.)

Clean Air, Clean Water and Clean Food

What’s the purpose of The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration any way? The EPA and NOAA were established by President Nixon in 1970. In Nixon’s President’s memo to Congress, he wrote, “Our national government today is not structured to make a coordinated attack on the pollutants which debase the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land that grows our food.” The EPA and NOAA were established to act as stewards for the health of humans and the planet upon which we depend, and to trace pollutants through the entire ecological chain, to determine the “total exposure of man and his environment.”

Carbon is a dirty fuel. It pollutes our water, our air and our food, in addition to being a greenhouse gas, with the larger ramifications for our planet. Our electricity is still 66% powered by fossil fuels. Most Americans fill up their cars with gasoline at the pump.

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Pollution

Big oil, energy and utility companies might be good at making our lives more comfortable. However, there are plenty of examples of where they have failed to protect the environment and the health of our citizens. Those failures include:

· Flint, Michigan Water Crisis 2014

· The BP Oil Spill April 20, 2010

· The big oil rigs that wipe out on freeways, which tend to make local headlines only.

· The many other oil spills and natural gas explosions that are swept under the rug and off the headlines as quickly as possible. (San Bruno California Natural Gas Explosion on Sept. 9, 2010 and the Chevron Oil Spill in Colorado that began on March 5, 2017.)

BP was found “grossly negligent” in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010. Exxon Mobil is in the Top 5 Air Polluters in the U.S. and ranks #17 as a Top Water Polluter (source: Political Economy Research Institute).

If your teen was one of the worst drivers in the country, you wouldn’t give him free access to your car keys. There is too much at stake to allow polluters to have free rein to govern themselves, with no one monitoring what’s going on. We’ve seen too much destruction as a result of reckless behavior. Having the EPA and NOAA monitor pollution, its effects on the environment and enforce consequences for creating environmental disasters is imperative. Even with regulations and consequences, the big oil and utility companies have caused colossal disasters.

The Carbon Tax Proposal of the CLC is promoting itself as a panacea that would work even better than the current clean air, water and food regulations. The Carbon Tax and Carbon Dividend is a bipartisan plan that could help by activating the individual to change habits. However, we need the polluters to change their habits, too. It’s difficult to design a free market solution that protects the planet. That requires vision, scientific data, restraint and ultimately a solution that puts the polluters out of the business they are currently becoming billionaires on. The EPA, NOAA and the Clean Power Plan were structured to be a “coordinated attack on the pollutants.” If we care about clean air, water and food, then it’s important to support the watchdogs.

Energy costs will rise in the coming years, whether it is due to a Carbon Tax or another carbon reduction program. If you care about protecting your budget against higher gas and utility costs, then it’s a good idea to embrace energy efficiency now. Your wallet will thank you. For most people, the savings can be thousands of dollars annually.

Get energy saving ideas by participating in the 14 Days of Gratitude and Sustainability and by downloading the free Earth Gratitude ebooks at Earth Gratitude.org.