the creation of a carbon tax could encourage energy alternatives


Robert M. Summers

By Robert M. Summers

As the war in Ukraine continues, energy independence has become a priority for Western countries that have struggled to sever ties with Russia. Despite our status as a net energy exporter, the United States still depends on Russia for almost 8% of its oil imports. As the costly effects of war on energy prices, especially at the gas pump, continue, Americans recognize the importance of energy independence and look to government for relief.

Fortunately, policymakers from all political walks of life are discussing ways to protect our energy supplies from crises abroad. Increasing investment in renewable forms of energy is a critical step we need to take to increase our energy security, improve our air quality, and reduce carbon emissions and climate impacts.

Over the past decade, renewable energy in the United States has nearly quadrupled. However, even with the success seen so far, the transition to clean and sustainable energy will cost between “$7.8 trillion and $13.9 trillion over the next 30 years.” This type of investment will require massive enterprise from both the public and private sectors.

But there is one policy currently being considered in several bills before Congress that would accelerate and help pay for this transition: a carbon tax.

A revenue-neutral carbon tax uses market forces to both raise revenue and induce innovation, thereby accelerating the transition to a cleaner energy grid. This solution supports economic growth by using funds raised through taxing carbon emissions to pay for the energy transition, offset the need for other burdensome regulations, and reduce other taxes, such as those on profits and income.

Companies would then have more capital to invest in green technologies and research driven by the desire to avoid paying a carbon tax. Not to mention that having a cohesive strategy to tackle harmful emissions gives us a policy we can rely on, as opposed to a regulatory model that takes a more patchy and inefficient approach, and which can change quickly with change. control of Congress and the White House.

The threats we face from both the climate crisis and Vladimir Putin’s irrational attack on Ukraine are immediate. But by moving our energy sector away from fossil fuels, we can both reduce emissions and improve our independence and security for the future. While these changes will not affect the current situation in Ukraine, they may increase America’s freedom from our dependence on the international fossil fuel market which is currently having a major effect on American lives. Simply put, one of the fastest ways to reduce our dependence on foreign fossil fuels is to stop using them.

The United States should not have to restrict itself on the world stage because of a lack of energy independence. A carbon tax that promotes sustainable, renewable energy and eliminates our reliance on fossil fuels will help ensure this never happens again. It is hoped that as Congress revives reconciliation talks with a focus on tackling climate change, a carbon tax will be a key part of that discussion.

Robert M. Summers is a former Environment Secretary of Maryland. He wrote this for


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