Idea of carbon tax gets respectful audience

Even coal-heavy Wyoming willing to hear about idea of a carbon tax

by Allen Best

Jerry Blann, chief executive of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, went to Charleston, S.C., in May 2013 for a ski industry conference and returned to Wyoming with a message about climate change solutions he believes can resonate even in a state that produces nearly half of U.S. coal.

Bob Inglis

Bob Inglis

Former Republican congressman Bob Inglis spoke there. He was conservative enough to win the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, although not conservative enough to win re-election in 2008.

In Charleston, Inglis spoke about his upbringing in South Carolina, according to the recollections of several people who were there. He had grown up near a paper mill. “That’s the smell of money,” his parents and other townspeople had said of the air pollution. Returning as an adult for a meeting, the out-of-town visitors commented on the smell and asked him why people had tolerated it.

That experience, along with comments from his own children, pushed him to accept the science of climate change.

Inglis concluded that greenhouse gases, as with pollution from the paper plant, shouldn’t be allowed to pollute the atmosphere freely. After being defeated for re-election, Inglis founded the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, which advocates “conservative and free-enterprise solutions to energy and climate change.” Among the market-based solutions is a tax or fee on carbon emissions, with the intent of stimulating innovation and change.

The proposal by Inglis—similar to that being pushed by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby—would be revenue neutral, meaning taxes on carbon emissions would be returned to people through reduced income taxes or direct payments.

See main story in MTN: A more unified ski industry alters its tone

Blann returned to Wyoming, where he persuaded Gov. Matt Mead to have Inglis speak at an economic forum. He says that Wyoming’s congressional delegation, although publicly protective of Wyoming’s carbon-based sector (See Nov. 25 op/ed by Sen. John Barrasso in the Wall Street Journal), do understand the need for changes.

“They get this. They do,” he says. He hopes a tax will stimulate innovation that allows Wyoming to continue to exploit its vast carbon resources through technology such as gasification and carbon capture and sequestration.



About Allen Best

Allen Best is a Colorado-based journalist. He publishes a subscription-based e-zine called Mountain Town News, portions of which are published on the website of the same name, and also writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines.
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4 Responses to Idea of carbon tax gets respectful audience

  1. Jan Freed says:

    A revenue neutral carbon fee with a dividend, makes enormous sense!

Economists and scientists say it is the best solution.

This way citizens would RECEIVE the carbon 
fees as a monthly dividend. That would cancel out any price spikes in dirty energy. 

Polluters PAY the fees, so it holds fossil fuel corporations responsible for the damages they cause, hundreds of billions of dollars per year (Harvard School of Medicine).


It would rapidly lower emissions, as happened in BC Canada with a similar policy. BC lowered both emissions and taxes with their fees.

 A study by respected Regional Economic Modeling, Inc. found the dividends would help to create 2.9 million additional jobs in 20 years, while reducing emissions much faster than regulations.


To those who reject the science: perhaps nothing will change
 your mind. But what have you got against cleaner air, less asthma in our kids, fewer heart attacks, and more money (the dividend) in your pockets?

    To those accepting the science: Any effort to
 limit the problem of climate change is worth it. 

For example: the cost of sea level rise ALONE is so great that no effort to prevent it is unwarranted. 

    Why even bother with the paid deniers who thrive creating the 
delay of a false debate? IMO we must take action by supporting responsible adults, of either party, for Congress.

  2. Rabbi Judy Weiss says:

    Thank you for this article–it gave me so much hope that a Wyoming businessman would hear Bob Inglis speak in South Carolina, return home, contact Wyoming’s Governor, and be able to persuade him to invite Inglis to speak at a local economic forum. This is how change happens in a democracy–citizens communicate their concerns to elected officials, raise new ideas, the subject is studied, the public becomes better educated until the political will exists for new legislation.

    My favorite Bob Inglis statement concerned losing his Congressional seat after introducing revenue-neutral carbon tax legislation. He said after that election –“Losing an election is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Losing your soul is considerably worse.”

    Unlike Members of Congress, most of us are not in a position “to lose our soul” over climate change. But if we sit by silently, we may one day be filled with tremendous regret.

    Thank you for your fabulous climate coverage,

    Judy, co-leader of the Boston chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby

  3. rg says:

    “…taxes on carbon emissions would be returned to people through reduced taxes or direct payments.”
    I’m sorry, but anyone who believes this is delusional. It’s right up there with “if you like your plan you can keep your plan.”
    Quick question: when they shipped my grandpa off to fight the Kaiser in 1918, there were less than 2 billion people on the planet. Now we are pushing 8 billion with a short stick. America and western Europe are not responsible for this increase. We are told that we need to drive tens of millions of Americans out of the middle class with a carbon tax, yet over the next decades the Third World will produce another 3-5 billion people. Why is this NEVER part of the discussion?

  4. ron gants says:

    Limiting global population growth is not being discussed in Paris. Some “inconvenient truths”:
    -In 1947, at partition, the Indian subcontinent had a population of 350 million, including present India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. Today: India 1 billion, Pakistan 180 million, Bangladesh 15o million.
    -In 1949 China: 500 million. Today 1.3 billion.
    We can expect 3-4 billion increase by the end of this century.

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