Northeast Multi-state gas (carbon) tax

fattony

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The goal of carbon taxes is not to raise revenue, the goal is to internalize the externalities of carbon. A carbon tax that produced zero net tax revenue (e.g., a carbon tax plus dividend) would still be a policy worth implementing. A carbon tax must tax all forms of non-sustainable carbon emissions equally, however, not just gasoline and diesel.
This is exactly what Canada's carbon tax does (as I understand it). All revenue from the tax is returned to citizens. They all get an equal credit to their income taxes or I think they can opt to just get a check. As the carbon tax increases over time, the size of that rebate increases. I think it is a great system. It puts a price on carbon, discouraging carbon use. It also refunds low-level carbon users, so as not to be regressive. And it gives what amounts to a universal basic income check to help stabilize the finances of the poorest and least secure Canadians. It's brilliant in my opinion.

I want to add that there seems to be a mental block for some folks around gas taxes, congestion fees, and carbon taxes. Unlike the former/current justification for gas tax, the point of these new taxes is to reduce the use of gas/roads/carbon. It is not to raise general revenue, it is not to raise ear-marked revenue for roads and bridges, and it is not to punish anyone. It is to change the choices you make and to change your behavior. It is to cause you, personally, to actually use less of the these pollutants. In that sense, it is more akin to a vice tax than a use tax.
 
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JumboBuc

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I want to add that there seems to be a mental block for some folks around gas taxes, congestion fees, and carbon taxes. Unlike the former/current justification for gas tax, the point of these new taxes is to reduce the use of gas/roads/carbon. It is not to raise general revenue, it is not to raise ear-marked revenue for roads and bridges, and it is not to punish anyone. It is to change the choices you make and to change your behavior. It is to cause you, personally, to actually use less of the these pollutants.
Yes, and to take it one step further: carbon taxes should not be thought of as a "transportation policy." Carbon taxes aren't road taxes or gas taxes, they're carbon taxes. A well-designed carbon tax should apply equally to all forms of unsustainable CO2-equivalent GHG generation, whether the generation comes through the production of electrical, thermal, or mechanical energy. The goal of such a tax is to internalize the negative externalities of GHG emissions across all of society, not just as it applies to cars. A carbon tax should be priced into your electric bill, your natural gas bill, your gas prices, your airplane tickets, and into the price of all other goods and services you purchase that emit greenhouse gasses in their production. Once the externalities of GHG emissions are internalized into prices they will become subject to market forces, which they are not now. Then the market will take it from there, and firms and individuals across the entire economy will be incentivized to choose and develop less-carbon intensive methods of energy production.

If you want to raise funds for transportation, then implement transportation-focused policies. Gas taxes or mileage taxes or congestion fees all fall into this category. But a true "carbon tax" should not be tied to anything transportation-specific.
 

Arlington

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Like I said I am not against a carbon tax (which should also be on diesel for trains and buses by the way with corresponding fare increases). Just that it should be judged by actual carbon reductions and not just all the shiny new things politicians can spend the taxes on.
Buses are generally winners under higher fuel prices, whether by tax or OPEC:
1) Allocated to customers on a per-seat basis (~50 per bus), per-gallon fuel taxes are barely noticeable in fares, even if fully passed on to customers
2) Higher fuel prices cause mode shift in favor of bus & train (away from cars & planes). Under higher fuel prices bus companies can "make it all back" just by filling one more seat, which turns out to be easy if the fuel price change was big enough to change behavior. (TL;DR if price hikes change behavior, buses are the economic winner)

Trucks hate higher diesel costs, but they generally suck it up as part of comprehensive financing.* The reality is that trucks are what's pounding the life out of our roads and what they pay in fuel and tire taxes still doesn't really cover it (drivers of light vehicles end up subsidizing them) (here again, Virginia has a pretty good funding-building model that became law in April 2019)]/url]

* resulting in [url=https://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Northam-amendment-fund-2-billion-I-81-and-other-interstates-improvement-plan-507781981.html]stories like
..unlike an earlier plan that included tolls, the new proposal has support from the state's trucking industry.
Dale Bennett is President of the Virginia Trucking Association.
"While trucking will be paying a significant share of this new revenue," he said, "other users of the system who will benefit will be contributing as well."
 

Arlington

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we need to build Nuclear Plants if we want to be "Green"

Absent the above characterized means for Grid-scale electrical energy storage -- Wind and Solar are net negatives to the "Green-ness" of electricity since there is an increasing need to supplement the "inherently unreliable-natured" Wind and Solar with quick-reaction fossil fueled "Peaking-Units"

As you can not make the Wind or Sunlight generated electricity predictable -- you must "back-stop" the full "Nameplate" output and then some to account for other network issues.
Problem is: Nuclear is just about the worst "back stop" given its need to run at steady-state outputs. Nuke is great as baseload supply but terrible at coming online and offline as wind/solar come offlineand online. Nukes take whole days to come on or be turned off. Only Natural Gas is really suited for quick on/off (where quick is an hour of spool up or spool down).

Small nukes (adapted directly from Naval, instead of scaled up), and Thorium would be great, and I'd hope that a carbon tax would encourage their development, but I would not be promoting them as peak/backstop supply.

Pumped storage / Hydro is really the only powersource--green or fossil-- where you can literally flip a switch (open a valve) and have power come on or turn off.

If you want more nukes to be usable as "counter-green" peaking/backstop, you're going to need to marry nukes to pumped storage (today) or batteries (price permitting).
 
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fattony

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If you want more nukes to be usable as "counter-green" peaking/backstop, you're going to need to marry nukes to pumped storage (today) or batteries (price permitting).
Bingo. I'll add the caveat that battery is both "price permitting" but also "sustainability permitting." It isn't crystal clear yet that batteries are going to scale well.
 

odurandina

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I think gas/carbon taxes are good for now....
They are already insanely high in CA, and many other western states.
extremely high in PA, NY, & CT, probably about $0.25~0.30 higher than Mass.
Mass joining them soon seems likely.

$2.00/gal in the deep south translates to about $3.85 in California.
UT, AZ, NV, OR, and WA are also peculiarly terrible, usually well over $3.00/gal everywhere.
UT, WY, CO, MT and northern NM have very low octane gas, and charge up the ass for it.
WY, CO, and NM aren't particularly fun to buy gas. The price for "plus" is always well over $3.00
including in late November when i was there.
Regular is 85 or 86 octane, and plus is 87 or 88 octane, except in southern NM.
and about $2.85 in PA, NY, & CT.
Btw, i paid between, $1.75~1.90/gallon a few weeks ago in Oklahoma, Texas & Louisiana.

Solar; California is pissed that so much natural gas must be used keep the turbines in the Mojave Desert
solar station near Las Vegas (HOT). They must run near full power at night to take maximum advantage
of the sun during the early part of the day.
Everyone loves wind & solar--but there's lots of problems....
A wind turbine will typically generate more than twice as much electricity in its first year than
when it is 15 years old.
Wind farms are too far from most of the cities they need to power, have costly,
sooner-than-expected turbine replacement, the blades take a tremendous beating from dust,
salt air, etc, wear out sooner, get torn up, lose efficiency
and require costly replacement....

Nuke, nuclear/wind & solar powered trains here in Mass (electrification) in the coming years will help.
Thorium: oh yeah.
Waste fuel reactors: yes!
 
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Arlington

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I think my point has been proven:
1) there are many worthy rival not-so-carbon-as-octante/cetane fuels and tech
2) Including fracked gas which has lower g/kWh than C8/C16.
3) Wide disagreement on which alternatives suggests we let the market sort out the innovation and intramural rivalry between them
4) Some of the $ could be returned as $ (if purely to change behavior) but we have a list of progressive infrastructure spending that would offset the regressive nature of (what will be inevitably thought of as) a fuel tax.
 

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