Carbon Tax for Your Car, SUV Takes Shape at TCI


By Steve Haner

In this politically sensitive moment, they don’t call it “cap and tax” but instead “cap and invest.” Yet, the recently released draft Transportation and Climate Initiative proposal fits a Bacon’s Rebellion prediction in March that next they would be coming to tax your SUV.

Reducing CO2 emissions from electric power plants with a cap and tax scheme is not enough, of course. More of those dread emissions (you and I call it exhaling) come from vehicles, despite rapid improvements in engine efficiency and alternatives to fossil fuel combustion. The Northam Administration has Virginia fully engaged. Legislation to require General Assembly approval for this regional compact was vetoed.

The October 1 draft proposal outline is here. Notice it is devoid of data on what the starting allowance for Virginia emissions would be, how the caps would decline, and what prices should be expected in the allowance trading scheme that will make the system work more smoothly. But it is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) for cars and trucks, with enforcement focused on fuel wholesalers rather than electricity generators. After all, the other gasoline taxes are collected “at the rack,” right?

Here is the Virginia Mercury’s report on this.  Read more at Watts Up With That.  Here are some excerpts from the document, with emphasis added:

The proposed program would cap emissions of carbon dioxide from the combustion of the fossil component of finished motor gasoline and on-road diesel fuel in the region. The TCI jurisdictions are evaluating whether and how to include and treat biofuels in the program. Affected fuel would include fuel destined for final sale or consumption in a TCI jurisdiction, upon removal from a storage facility (i.e., a “terminal rack”) in the TCI jurisdiction, or, for fuel removed from a facility in another jurisdiction, upon delivery into the TCI jurisdiction….

The program would begin with an initial emissions cap set at a level that then declines every year at a rate chosen by TCI jurisdictions to support their emissions reduction goals and informed by analysis of the program’s impact. The initial cap would be set using a combination of baseline emissions for three recent years, and projected emissions estimated through modeling. The program would begin as early as 2022 and reach a target emissions level in 2032. Each jurisdiction’s allowance budget would be a percentage of the regional emissions cap….

Each TCI jurisdiction has different transportation needs and unique authorities; therefore, each jurisdiction would independently decide how proceeds are invested to achieve carbon emission reductions and other policy goals—like improved air quality and more affordable access to transportation. Additionally, jurisdictions may identify shared priorities for investment of proceeds including to maximize the efficiency of the regional program and to ensure greater benefits. TCI jurisdictions are committed to equity and meaningful community engagement when making new investment decisions and conducting program review….

Any “proceeds,” of course, would be from the missing word: “tax.” If you try to avoid this tax by filling up in North Carolina or some other non-TCI state, well, they’ll figure out a way to get you.

As is the case with electricity generation, rapid progress is being made in lower or non-CO2 transportation. Many people want electric cars (my next one might be), and many larger vehicles are using compressed natural gas.  I would love to see the transit systems here which are so common in Europe.  But this is also a marketplace where many consumers are not with the program, want to keep the old guzzler or drive the gigantic SUV that blocks half the aisle in parking lots. Perhaps a carbon tax on fuel will change that behavior, but it is doubtful.

Jim Bacon will be pleased to see that the document opens up with a riff on equity and justice. Just as low-income families spend a larger portion of income on their electric bill, so perhaps do they on transportation costs (private or public).  It is good that removing this added economic burden from them is front of mind for the authors, but watch it become yet another income transfer mechanism.

This is the start of a process, with a public comment period next. It is hard to imagine Governor Northam or any of the other true believers listening to cries of alarm, and probably only minor adjustments will be accepted. Absent a political directive from Virginia voters and Virginia business, prepare to pay more for gas or start hunting for that first electric car.

Enough rambling – go to the document, or the TCI homepage, and do your own digging and form your own conclusions.

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27 responses to “Carbon Tax for Your Car, SUV Takes Shape at TCI

  1. The environmentalists have won. They’ll take charge of the General Assembly in January, and this, along with RGGI, will be a done deal.

    • I haven’t fully researched the claim, but I’ve heard the voters around the U.S. have always rejected carbon taxes when given the opportunity. If a month from now the 10,000 foot theme of November 5 is a referendum on carbon taxes and the Green New Deal?? It could happen. THIS was very badly timed for the Democrats.

  2. The WSJ headline says it all: . Of course the devil is in those details: the “Climate Leadership Council” proposal here would return the money to consumers, not plop it in the State’s general fund like Virginia is proposing with RGGI.

  3. It’s a tax. So what?

  4. The idea that this tax will pay a dedicated “dividend” back to those who pay it, or to climate-related causes (such as basic research into carbon “sequestering” or a more efficient grid), is probably the only way it will get the public support it lacks today. A redistributive tax to support unrelated “moral” causes (such as abating homelessness), or simply to reduce the budget deficit (federal) or contribute general funds (State) is certainly more popular with legislators — and gets the ire of all those “no new taxes” folks for the same reason.

  5. so who will this impact the most in Virginia? How about the urban areas chock-a-block with cars … tolls and blue voters?

    Will blue voters in urban areas vote for a GOP to represent them and abandon the Dems?


    Maybe ask if Dem voters support RGGI and TCI and will vote Dem to continue it?

    I’ve not bought an electric car, We are considering a hybrid but electric cars powered by natural gas plants is not “green” it’s faux-green and I suspect that progressive voters know this and because of that do support these initiatives to reduce emissions from both electricity and auto.

    It boils down to something simple – if you believe that emissions are a threat to mankind – then you support efforts to reduce the emissions.

    If you do not, then you oppose it. I’m trying to understand why those folks who do not believe the climate is imperiled would want an electric car. What’s the point ?

  6. Who gets hit? Bubba with his Ford F-250. Momma with that monster SUV. And plenty of business cost impacts, which flutter through the economy. Please, tell every voter you come in contact with that both RGGI and the SUV tax are needed to save the world. I’ll pay for the mailings! 😉 No Car Tax worked like a charm in those very precincts you are mentioning….and I got a four year state job! Best job I ever had! Why not No Car(bon) Tax?

    • If the Republicans had any brains, they’d flay the no-carbon-tax theme before the election clock runs out.

      Steve, you know them better than I do — do they have any brains?

      • Jim, the answer is no . Amanda chase” my .38 pistol is my little equal rights amendment” just got booted from GOP a few weeks before elections. Pathetic and you little Gop doodles are squirming around. Haner included. Ha ha

      • You guys keep forgetting – the majority of the votes in Virginia are in NoVa and other urban centers! Do you think the GOP “messages” have any real effect in those areas?

        That’s why I asked – if you think the Dems will buy the GOP message and vote for GOP candidates in places like NoVa?

        Hey – the GOP has already hit the Tolling of the interstates and as far as I can tell – the only folks buying it are the exurban commuters!

    • Yes Bubba and Soccer Mom will get “hit” but the much larger group will be the work-a-day folks in NoVa and the states urban work centers. Like I said – take a vote – and the urban areas with their greater populations will win.

      Steve, would you also argue against a storm water tax or a tax on new cars to pay for roads or a tax on phones to pay for 911 centers or for that matter a taxes on general sales to pay for VDOT! ???

  7. Let’s put it this way, Jim, some more than others…..and they have what I don’t, real polling data and I’d need that if seriously trying to gin up a major campaign theme. But taxes are always a major theme, and in today’s world the indirect method of taxation is taking over. Things like RGGI and a vehicle carbon tax are intended to be hard to see, hard to track. Peter, careful, they say you can’t go back and re-live the glory days, but it’s tempting. I hate to see a majority I worked so hard to build slip away……Polls are open five weeks from today.

    • You know this is funny. Consider what Dominion is doing right now to folks on their refusal to give back excess profits, tax rebates, etc.

      They’re screwing folks over left and right – and we’re yelling “wolf wolf” on taxes… geeze

  8. Meanwhile 500 scientists and professionals from around the world prepared the following. Don’t worry, the MSM will ignore dissenting scientific opinion.

    One would think that Virginia’s Governor, who must have taken numerous science courses, would want these claims investigated before new taxes and fees are imposed on working people.

    Stupid me. His sole job is to signal his green virtues. If there is, indeed, karma, Governor Coonman will catch a flesh-eating virus.

    And, at least, the Lt. Governor is busy fighting the claims against him instead of just virtue signaling. Northam is disgusting well beyond Nixon, Clinton, Clinton and Trump rolled into one.

    • TMT – have you checked on who the folks are that run the site?

      do you think they have an agenda?

      • Unlike the agenda of the world is ending people sucking up taxpayer dollars. We should be investigating the perceived flaws (and worse) in the research identified by the 500 experts, who certainly have credentials equal to those whose research is being questioned.

        I’ve worked with engineers for more than 40 years. Much of their work has been to support their employer’s or client’s advocacy to the FCC or other agencies. Each expert has been expected to defend his/her work and methodology and answer objections raised by the other side. Ditto for economists and financial analysts. If 500 engineers, scientists, economists or financial analysts wrote a critique of the expert’s or experts’ report, you better believe the author(s) would be expected to answer the criticisms and counter-findings or see their report ignored. Ditto for expert opinions in court.

        Yet we toss all of this away for climate science. The government already has a hand on the scale since it only finances pro-human-caused climate change research. Government reports are full of examples of fraud in science. But it won’t even look at fraud claims in the area climate science. Why the difference?

        Climate science is all about rent seekers. If we continue down this path, we will see a huge transfer of money from ordinary people and small businesses to big business, Wall Street, universities and nonprofits, as well as politicians. Why is that in the public interest? Why shouldn’t Uncle Sam seek answers as to the objections raised by the 500 scientists, et al.? American Government has become a cesspool.

        • TMT – there are scientists around the world that say Climate Change is real and we are starting to see real impacts in sea level, temperatures and super-hurricanes… and other severe weather.

          You yourself have advocated that the coastal areas not get subsidized insurance, right? Are they also rent-seekers?

          The fact that this thing you posted is cross-posted on dozens of Climate skeptic sites…. makes me wonder about it.

  9. Larry, after 40 years I don’t need VA politics lessons from you. When you start sputtering like this, I know I’ve hit the bulls eye. Get some rest. Gonna give you another workout in the morning….working on it now….

    • but Steve – you KNOW that he GOP is in bed with Dom and willing to screw people over but then the GOP yells “taxes” at the same time.

      40 years is long enough to believe that TRIPE!

  10. Did any of you happen to read this statement from 500 scientists and professionals to the U.N.? And who funded this RGGI non-profit? Who is making money off of this? Has anyone looked in to this “non-profit”?

    To quote:
    “CO2 is plant food, the basis of all life on Earth

    CO2 is not a pollutant. It is essential to all life on Earth. Photosynthesis is a blessing. More CO2 is beneficial for nature, greening the Earth: additional CO2 in the air has promoted growth in global plant biomass. It is also good for agriculture, increasing the yields of crop worldwide.”

  11. Larry is just now grasping that most of us think Michael Mann is an idiot. (Except the movie/Miami Vice Michael Mann….he’s a genius.)

  12. Well I have been trying to argue that Virginia should *not* be striving for 100% renewable electricity, rather we should be striving for lower state carbon footprint. Therefore reducing transportation CO2 does come into my proposed equation.

    My goal would be energy efficency, whereas the proposed rules sound more like vilification and punishment of fossil fuel users.

    Our current property/car tax in Virginia is very high on more expensive and green cars. I would reform the car tax and allow people to buy new and greener cars. I would encourage hybrids. I am not particuarly interested in electric cars.

    Steve has sucked into the elecrtic car hype, but they are not selling without huge incentives, becuase they are a not generally competitive except as a politcal statement of fossil fuel hatred. I am sure some people could use electrics for short trips, but you are going to have to have very high penalty on gasoline and give the money to incentivize electric vechiles, to get sales to take off.

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