WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec 2, 2009) – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today questioned whether the climate bills currently pending in the Senate represent the best approach for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, saying that all options, including a net zero carbon tax, deserve thorough consideration.
“The main argument for cap and trade is that it would create a new market in which economically efficient and environmentally compliant decisions could be made. Despite this, the House and Senate bills display a clear lack of faith in the ability of a ‘carbon market’ to function on its own,” Murkowski said. “If a given policy purports to reduce emissions, it should be allowed to do just that. Additional layers of bureaucratic regulation – which are duplicative, inefficient and counterproductive – should be taken off the table. And if a policy is not up to the task, either in theory or in practice, then we need to consider alternatives.”
Instead of continuing down the same path that has only increased division within the climate debate, Murkowski suggested that the Senate return to the drawing board.
“We need to dispense with the blind faith in cap and trade that has dominated the past year of debate – or at least question whether that loyalty is truly warranted,” Murkowski said. “A more inclusive debate would allow us to examine which policies are actually capable of reducing emissions while protecting, or even strengthening, the economy.”
The Senate should explore other options, including pairing tax cuts with a price on emissions, Murkowski said. A substantial tax reduction on individuals, funded by a revenue-neutral price on carbon, may offer potential benefits for both our economy and our environment.
“A new carbon market would be susceptible to manipulation by special interests and would generate tremendous administrative expenses and new bureaucracy,” Murkowski said. “By contrast, putting a specific and predictable price on carbon would provide cost certainty to consumers and businesses, minimize price fluctuations and perhaps facilitate greater international cooperation.”
Murkowski said she’s not advocating that any approach for reducing emissions be taken off the table, nor is she planning to introduce tax reform legislation. Rather, she is concerned that the climate change debate has become overly narrow.
“We should objectively review the strengths and weaknesses of all of our policy options, and then develop a measure that protects both our economy and our environment,” Murkowski said. “Promoting cleaner energy is a laudable goal, but measures to make it a reality must provide a net benefit to our economy.”