Top 5 "Green" Policy Myths Used to Fight Environmental Action

| by Climate Task Force
Myth #1: No Taste for A “Tax”
Many public policymakers assume – incorrectly – that a carbon “tax” can’t be sold to legislators or to the public. Yet, a newly released survey by Hart Research shows that it’s not only possible; it’s popular. The poll found that voters overwhelmingly favor carbon tax over cap and trade by a 2-to-1 margin. It also discovered that the higher a voter ranks the environment, the less likely they are to support emissions trading as the best solution to greenhouse gases. In fact, carbon tax outperformed cap and trade in every demographic that was measured.

The fact of the matter is that most Americans recognize that any real solution to climate change will substantially increase the cost of energy. But the best solution will account for that, successfully mitigating its impacts on economic recovery, employment and other Main Street concerns.

Myth #2: Current Economy Hampers Environmental Aspirations

Not according to recent research. Polling shows that 74% of American voters favor taking action to reduce carbon emissions and expand the use of renewable energy. And that support isn’t limited to one party or a single region; the majority of Republican’s, Democrats, Independents, and people from all across the U.S. back “green” action.

This bi-partisan, nationwide support stands at odds with the current political landscape for cap and trade. Fierce partisan maneuvering and intense regional divides have essentially halted all progress on Capitol Hill. Many pundits have even dubbed the current Senate bill a “dead policy walking.” This disconnect demonstrates the need for new policy solutions that bridge the gap between what American voters want and what Congress is prepared to consider.

Myth #3: Only Hard “Caps” Ensure Emissions Cuts

While it’s true that hard “cap” systems are based on determining an emissions level, rather than a price, they’re not the only policy option that targets pre-determined reductions in emissions. A carbon tax sets a predictable price on each unit of carbon emissions, encouraging consumers and businesses alike to reduce their emissions to avoid the additional fee. Thus, higher tax rates produce predictable emissions reductions over time – or “soft” caps.

Additionally, hard caps do not guarantee that prescribed emissions reductions will be reached. Such programs often include complicated offset provisions that allow large emitters to continue emitting CO2, if they pay to protect undeveloped land or maintain forests. There is no assurance that such projects will reduce CO2 by the amount stated, and other times they may only preserve land that would have remained untouched without the offsets. As a result, actual emissions reductions, if any, could be much lower than the cap states.

Myth #4: Carbon Fee Would Burden Consumers

A revenue-neutral carbon tax-shift that returns proceeds to consumers through reductions in other taxes – such as those on wages or income – protects the average American from increased costs. Those that do the most to reduce their personal carbon emissions will save the most under this plan. The simplicity and fairness of such a proposal helps explain why two out of every three Americans support this approach to climate change.

Myth #5: All Climate Policies Must Pick Winners and Losers

While there will be winning and losing technologies as the world’s energy landscape evolves, Capitol Hill is not the best place for those choices to be made. Good policy will create an economic environment in which the most effective solutions thrive, thereby protecting our planet’s environment.