May 10, 2013

While I admire advocacy for untangling the country’s tax code, The Post’s mash-up of tax reform, tax revenue and the carbon tax is problematic [“Tax reform on the table,” editorial, May 8]. The Post rightly acknowledged that, under a carbon tax, “polluters pay for their own pollution” and emissions fall, but it forgot the intent: creating a less carbon-intense economy.

Overreliance on gasoline taxes and increased automobile fuel efficiency have put a pothole in state transportation budgets. Entrenching a carbon tax in the tax code will do the same for the federal budget and require a rewrite later. Let’s use the carbon tax as a temporary policy tool that compensates for pollution’s harm and get tax reform right the first time.

Mark Gibson, Fairfax

The Post is right to once again ring the bell for a carbon tax. Climate data, particularly from the Arctic, have scientists deeply worried and forecast big trouble ahead if we don’t take prompt action. The market failure to properly account for the societal cost of greenhouse gas pollution is crying out for a remedy.

But the best and most politically viable version of a carbon tax is a fully revenue-neutral one that does not divert any of the proceeds to pet projects of Congress, even those that seem laudable. All proceeds should be returned to the public on an equal per-capita basis, preferably in the form of a direct payment. The carbon tax must also feature a cast-in-stone annual increase, so inventors and entrepreneurs will be motivated to find the best technical solutions.

Such a “fee and dividend” approach is the fairest, most transparent and least vulnerable to being “gamed” by special interests. We can’t afford to get this wrong.

Rick Knight, Brookfield, Ill.

The writer is a volunteer for the Citizens Climate Lobby.