NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 20, 2007

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), has proposed a bold plan to fight global warming: an across-the-board carbon tax -- better known as a universal energy tax, says H. Sterling Burnett, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Dingell recognizes that carbon cap-and-trade proposals are merely backdoor taxes on energy use, says Burnett:

  • As carbon-emission caps take hold, prices for energy and goods will increase, and some companies will fold.
  • Because the tax is hidden, Congress would likely hold hearings into price-gouging and the villainy of oil companies, while avoiding all blame for the policies they foisted upon the nation.
  • In the end, these policies will hurt the working poor, blue-collar laborers and those on fixed incomes, while doing little or nothing to prevent global warming.


  • The U.S. Energy Information Agency recently released an assessment of a Senate cap-and-trade proposal, which found it would cost the economy $533 billion.
  • It would also raise gasoline prices by about 41 cents per gallon, and electricity prices by more than 21 percent.

Dingell offers a different plan -- one that is bold, far-reaching, transparent and expensive, says Burnett.  It would impose an across-the-board $100 per ton tax on carbon-dioxide emissions, a 50-cents per gallon tax on gasoline and end the mortgage tax deduction on all homes larger than 3,000 square feet.

Dingell's proposal would send the economy into a tailspin.  But on the bright side, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by inducing a recession or an economic depression, says Burnett.  By making the costs transparent, Dingell is issuing a challenge.  If Congress and the public are unwilling to pay the price, then perhaps they don't really think global warming is that big a threat.

Source: H. Sterling Burnett, "Should Congress consider universal energy tax?" Charlotte Observer, August 20, 2007.


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