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With the debt ceiling crisis looming, Republican leaders like John Boehner (Ohio) and Eric Cantor (Va.) keep insisting on draconian cuts that would decimate our government's ability to protect people and the environment, while defending tax breaks for polluters and the wealthiest individuals. Many Democrats are voicing support for the same extreme cuts.
That's outrageous. But unless we start asserting our alternative vision now, ongoing budget battles will continue to be lopsided in favor of corporate special interests.
A carbon tax is one innovative, long-term solution to our budget and climate challenges that we must start injecting into the discussion. As political blogger Matthew Yglesias wrote this week, "it's absolutely insane" that a carbon tax is not being talked about.1
Sign our petition to Congress to let your representatives, and our progressive allies in Congress, know that you back this win-win solution. A carbon tax does not yet have the support it needs — so we must start building it today.
Simply put, a carbon tax is a fee levied on climate-heating emissions produced by burning coal, gasoline, natural gas and other polluting forms of energy. It could easily raise hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue — enough to offset harmful cuts to Medicare, Social Security, health, education, labor and pensions programs proposed by the bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators in their plan to reduce budget deficits.2
The environmental benefits would be tremendous. Pollution imposes unacceptable costs on society — from the medical bills of millions of children sick with asthma to the billions in economic damages caused by extreme droughts, floods, tornadoes and other weather tragedies made more frequent and severe by climate change.
By forcing polluters to take responsibility for the full costs of their pollution, a carbon tax would provide an economic incentive for companies and consumers to switch to cleaner technologies and reduce the pollution overheating our planet, helping to head off the worst impacts of climate change.
Even though it is a realistic and sensible solution, only a few members of Congress, like Representatives Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and John Larson (D-Conn.), have been brave enough to propose a carbon tax. Our first task will be to get more progressives in Congress on board.
A carbon tax is a bold, long-term solution, not a political quick fix — but it’s exactly the sort of solution our environmental and budget challenges call for, and it’s our job to move it out of the shadows and into the mainstream debate.
In fact, promoting a carbon tax is one of the main pillars of Friends of the Earth’s newly launched Earth Budget Campaign, designed to inject solutions into the budget debate that prioritize people over polluters.
Let’s fight for bold solutions,
Climate and energy tax analyst, Friends of the Earth
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Friends of the Earth is fighting to defend the environment and create a more healthy and just world.
Our current campaigns focus on promoting clean energy and solutions to climate change,
keeping toxic and risky technologies out of the food we eat and products we use,
and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them.
To support this work, you can become a Friend of the Earth.