A carbon tax is needed to start counteracting the extremely large pollution subsidies afforded to the fossil fuel industry by federal and state governments.
Direct and indirect subsidies to the fossil fuel industry are creating artificially low fuel prices. Rather than making polluters pay for the damage they create, for the last 40 years the federal government has been artificially reducing the cost of fossil fuels through large industry subsidies. A tenet of a perfect marketplace is that all external cost should be internalized. U.S. policy on fossil fuels has promoted the exact opposite and we live in a corrupted marketplace as a result.
Passing I-732 is a step in the right direction towards a more perfect marketplace where the actual price is applied to energy within the U.S. so the market-place can respond appropriately.
- Summary of Subsidies to Fossil Fuel Industry
- Direct Exploration and Production tax incentives (Federally $21.6 Billion/year.)
- Consumption Infrastructure Subsidies ($11.2 billion/year)
- International Financing Subsidies ($4.1-$6.3 Billion/year)
- Externality (Social Cost of Carbon Pollution) Subsidy ($500 Billion/year)
- Military subsidy for to secure fossil fuel resources ($500 Billion per year)
Washington State only receives a portion of these federal subsidies which can be pro-rated to Washington State. Note: Washington also has state level subsidies applied to the fossil fuel sector which has been ignored for study.
- S. consumed 25,776 TWH of Primary Energy in 2010 (25% Petroleum, 22% Coal, 22% Nat. Gas)
- This is 17,785 TWH of Primary Fossil Fuel Energy = 60,686.44 Trillion BTU’s
- WA State consumed 2 Trillion BTU’s of Primary Fossil Fuel energy in 2013
- WA represents ~1.84% of U.S. Primary Fossil Fuel consumption
- The $25/ton carbon tax proposed by I-732 will generate $2.2 billion revenue based on Washington State’s energy mix. This can be used to estimate the carbon tax equivalent subsidy applied to the fossil fuel industry based on Washington’s unique energy mix.
- Each $1 of carbon tax generates $88 million in revenue
- This can be used to convert existing subsidies into apparent $/ton subsidization in WA
- Direct financial subsidies to the fossil fuels burned in Washington total $8.2/ton of CO2 emissions
- The damage caused by carbon pollution currently not paid by the emitters of that pollution exceeds $100/ton of CO2 emissions
- The military cost spent providing access to world-wide fossil fuel resources exceeds $100/ton
The $25/ton carbon tax proposed by I-732 will offset just 11% of Washington’s share of the current subsidies enjoyed by the fossil fuel industry. I-732 should be passed in November and efforts to reduce the existing federal subsidies should be implemented.