Virginia and Other States Pass on Carbon Tax Pact

by Steve Haner

The organizers of the Transportation and Climate Initiative announced Monday that only four of the twelve jurisdictions involved have agreed to move forward and implement the carbon tax on motor fuels, and Virginia is not one of them.  Not yet.

The 2021 Virginia General Assembly could consider legislation to join the interstate compact in 2022, but the memorandum of understanding as it stands now only includes Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, which are contiguous, and the District of Columbia.

New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania were conspicuously absent along with Virginia.  One surprise that emerged, however, is that North Carolina is now part of the planning group.  The states that didn’t sign anything yet issued a statement of “next steps” that leaves the door open for the future.  Even those that did sign pushed the implementation back one year to 2023, reducing the need to act now.

The Governor Ralph Northam Administration has been silent so far on its plans or reasoning.  His apparent decision to at least delay a year on acting is prudent but leaves the issue alive for debate among 2021 candidates for statewide or legislative offices. 

This effort has been going on for more than a decade now, with Virginia a late entry. To have only one-third of the states sign, and to have the largest states staying on the sidelines, has to be considered a setback.  Organizers did their best to create a positive spin in their release.

The goal of TCI was to create a large region coordinating efforts to cap and then ration the amount of gasoline and diesel fuel available for sale. Motor fuels are a major source of atmospheric CO2 blamed for climate change, and a growing percentage source since other sources (like power plants) are declining. Advocates also claim that reducing tailpipe emissions will lower rates of asthma, heart disease and other ailments.

The MOU also calls on participating states to commit 35 percent of the carbon tax revenue to serve the “population of overburdened and underserved communities” and ensure they “benefit equitably from clean transportation projects and programs.”

But individual states have final control over spending their carbon tax revenue. The intention is to encourage or subsidize alternatives to internal combustion vehicles, including mass transit, electric or low-emission vehicles, walking trails and even broadband internet. Just how much revenue Virginia might extract from its families and businesses should it join will become clearer as the four jurisdictions going forward develop the fuels auction marketplace.

The regressive nature of the program, raising prices with both a gasoline tax and rationing, was noted by some advocates for low-income citizens. Environmental justice advocates who objected loudly in New Jersey, as previously reported, may have knocked New Jersey out of the compact.

Just yesterday I reported on a Tufts University analysis that identified fairly high carbon taxes and resulting gasoline price increases in Massachusetts. Today’s announcement discusses $300 million in potential revenue among the four jurisdictions, a substantially lower figure than Tufts projected. Modeling done by Georgetown University also pointed to higher tax amounts.

The Thomas Jefferson Institute sponsored a study that predicted the TCI carbon tax in Virginia would be 33 cents per gallon or would need to be that high to actually dent consumer thirst for fuel.

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45 responses to “Virginia and Other States Pass on Carbon Tax Pact

  1. Four out of twelve. Not even half.

    Not all proposals/initiatives intended to help the environment are good. Maybe this is one that is not.

    • Things that actually work should take priority….If you want to really cut CO2 in this arena, you’ll have to basically eliminate these engines and then get on the horn to China and India. China and India are big sources now and that will only grow as we cut our own economic throats.

  2. I find it fascinating that so many conservatives on this blog are so opposed to a carbon tax. After all, it was conservatives that initially championed the idea of taxing pollution or carbon, rather than trying to regulate it. Let the market decide. https://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-conservative-roots-of-carbon-pricing

    But, now that liberals or “progressives” are supporting the idea, all of a sudden it is anathema to conservatives. Could it be that they just really don’t think that climate change is that big a threat or are just opposed to dealing with it in any fashion?

    • Indeed:

      ” The Political History of Cap and Trade
      How an unlikely mix of environmentalists and free-market conservatives hammered out the strategy known as cap-and-trade”

      https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-political-history-of-cap-and-trade-34711212/

      no more… apparently…

    • Trying to address your observation-
      This is not really a fair and even carbon tax, it is a anti-gasoline (and diesel) automobile/truck initiative with immediate super-taxes on that one specific activity. A carbon tax would be nation-wide and equally impact all fossil fuel users, and has some better merit and evenness of application. And probably would phase in more slowly. And still has regressive tax problem to fix somehow.

      California adopted a carbon-tax which is cap and trade, and it reportedly prevented CARB Chief Mary Nichols from getting the Biden EPA Chief job, because enviros saw it as environmental racism. Can’t win for losing…maybe that is what scared them off of TCI.

      • So if you were king , how would you address these flaws?

        Is this something – the core idea is good but implementation needs work or the core idea is fundamentally bad/wrong?

        • One Prius equiv in every driveway, and do away with or reform Va. annual car tax, which has the effect of keeping people in less eco-friendly older vehicles, and is an extra cost penalty for green car buyers (deterrent).

          • The PPT does keep older more emitting vehicles on the roadways, but the assembly isn’t going to give up that cash grab.

    • I personally remain unconvinced that CO2 is the “cause” of a process of temperature ups and downs that has existed for eons. I was never fond of a carbon tax, but if there is to be one, it should be universal. For Virginia to set itself up to lose economically to surrounding states just to virtue signal is nuts. Canada is talking about 170 dollars a ton (Canadian dollars 🙂 ) Now that’s a tax!

      • Well, you DID say faith conquers reason. At least you’re consistent.

      • First, the need to have any carbon tax be universal is a valid argument. But, it is a different argument than the one I have been consistently seeing on this blog.

        Two, it is true that the earth’s temperature has fluctuated up and down, thereby resulting in climate change, such as an Ice Age which receded, over the eons. However, there are two primary differences between those time s and now. First, the increase in temperature and climate change in the past occurred over spans of thousands or millions of years. It is happening much faster now. Secondly, and more importantly, there are a lot more people around now than there were during the last Ice Age and thus the effect is much greater. Back then, sea level rise over a long span affected plants and maybe some animals. Now, sea level rise threatens whole cities and inhabited islands. And sea level rise is only one result of climate change.

        • Ah, reason. But don’t worry it is easily conquered by faith.

        • Wrong, wrong, wrong, Dick. Those are the articles of faith, not any statements I’ve made. There is no evidence and certainly no experimental backup that previous periods of climate change were so much slower. You can go to the VMFA today and see archeology on an undersea Egyptian city swallowed by sea level rise. There is even a body, that “iceman” from the Alps, of a prehistoric fellow who was preserved by the advancing glaciers, then revealed as they retreated.

          • Baconator with extra cheese

            So you are telling me the VMFA is celebrating slave-owning Egyptian culture? Whoa…
            When will the Jewish people organize to smash the place to pieces, tear down those obelisks, burn some stuff, and spray paint some slogans?
            No justice no peace.

          • re: ” There is no evidence and certainly no experimental backup that previous periods of climate change were so much slower.”

            I can understand and even relate to the skeptics viewpoint but what I cannot understand is how come they are so sure they are 100% correct and there is no possibility of catastrophe in the future?

            The “evidence” from the past was and is collected and processed by science – not skeptics – it’s skeptics that don’t believe what science says about the evidence that science itself has collected.

            In other words, the skeptics believe they are intepreting that data correctly and science is not.

        • “Now, sea level rise threatens whole cities and inhabited islands. And sea level rise is only one result of climate change.” So shouldn’t we pass laws that forbid new construction or reconstruction in these areas?

          A few years ago, we were at a presentation at a museum in San Francisco. The speaker discussed climate change (mandatory there, I think). She indicated that much of the City and most of the Financial District is built on land that was reclaimed from the Bay. This led me to conclude – it should be underwater today. Shouldn’t part of a governmental climate change plan include abandoning areas built on landfill? That would enable other people’s money on land that would not otherwise be flooded.

          Again, I ask: Why should ordinary people reduce their standard of living to protect the real estate investments of the wealthiest? It’s a question that the green and the woke dodge. And of course, the MSM never asks it.

          • Baconator with extra cheese

            Ask Obama why he invested millions on a coastal estate when it’s an existential threat… is the wisest of the woke that bad at risk management?

    • Yeah, but Dick, they also designed most of the ACA.

      It appears to be a theme. Propose a viable alternative to a regulation and when it’s adopted begin tearing their own house down to eliminate any change at all.

    • > the idea of taxing pollution or carbon, rather than trying to regulate it. Let the [market] decide.

      I think you mispelled Goldman-Sachs

    • I did not say I was opposed to a carbon tax. I said this plan (the TCI) may not be a good one. It says SOMETHING about the TCI when two-thirds of the states which had initial interest in it ultimately decide to pass on it.

  3. Dick. You are absolutely right. The right wingers talk out if both sides if their mouths.

  4. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    I am inspired. Just warmed up the VW bus and bug carbon makers. Did not go anywhere. Good to run those air cooled motors once a week. Take that you TCI!

  5. https://www.virginiamercury.com/2020/12/22/virginia-isnt-quite-ready-to-put-a-ring-on-the-transportation-and-climate-initiative/

    Always nice to have the other media doing the second day stories…. 🙂 Wow, the closest they got to mentioning the real costs, from either TCI’s own data or the Tuft’s study, was a claimed 5 cent increase per gallon. That isn’t even worth the admin cost of setting this up……

    But my favorite part is Scott Surovell claiming that sea level rise will inundate Virginia Beach and make Norfolk the oceanfront, and all we need to stop that is to stop driving gasoline cars…..Even for hyperbole, that’s silly.

  6. Baconator with extra cheese

    Man I sure hope the underserved and overburdened communities get the 50 -75% money they’re lobbying for along with no increase to their power bills….
    If they don’t RVA, Petersburg, Danville, Portsmouth, Martinsburg, and a bunch others will look like the seige of Stalingrad when the Dems shut down all the carbon sources of energy… talk about an Equity issue…. not to mention the wide scale abandonment of the old buildings and the schools in those cities that would need millions in retrofits. And when those who can’t afford to retrofit start burning everything wood to keep warm or cook wait for the cries about PM 2.5 pollution in the lower class areas…
    I hope the Dr Governor is putting heat pumps in that new GA building…. but I bet it’s gas!

    • Take Acid Rain or CFC/Ozone.

      Neither got “shut down” 100% at all. They got reduced – to reduced levels that were less of a threat.

      It’s not all or nothing, never was.

      Of course, back then, most, not all, Conservatives also believed science.

      • Baconator with extra cheese

        The plan is to shut down natural gas within 30 years.
        RVA has built like 3 schools in 40 years.
        Do you think they can convert all their buildings to electric heat sources in 30 years if they can’t even replace schools when they already spend more per pupil then just about any district?
        It has nothing to do with all or nothing…
        How about converting the heat systems in the hospitals in SWVA that already can’t stay open? Or their schools?
        I’m not even debating the climate change principles… just the economics of getting the required changes done in the amount of time set by those voted in.
        And where the hell are we going to get 500,000 HVAC techs and electricians?
        And my bet is we’ll be importing Chinese equipment for the retrofits… take our scrap metal and sell it back to us! Genius.

        • I think you can look at these issues – half glass and we do.

          Is progess beind made but not fast enough or is it actual true NOTHING is being done?

          The critics know only what’s wrong and spend energy railing against what they see is wrong even as progress IS being made – it’s ignored to focus on what is still wrong.

          Are you optimistic for the future?

  7. Looks like the GOP supports measures for Climate Change also:

    Stimulus deal includes raft of provisions to fight climate change

    The most substantial federal investment in green technology in a decade includes billions for solar, wind, battery storage and carbon capture. Congress also agreed to cut the use of HFCs, chemicals used in refrigeration that are driving global warming.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2020/12/21/congress-climate-spending/

    Sounds like some Conservatives in BR did not get the word?

    😉

    Can we give credit for this to Trump? 😉

    • Gee, pork barrel spending snuck into an omnibus act of congress. What a new development. If HFC’s are a problem and a reasonable alternative exists, go for it. If that means no more AC or the electric cost to run AC rises, or it costs another $1,000 in install, I’m sure they will find someone to blame for that….

      • Yes there is expensive new American refrigerant technology, chemical(s). Obama tried to force the world to buy it from us.

        This gets into an interesting area, if we had access to all the catalysts and novel technologies of private industry, we could perhaps better solve many of the world’s problems. But private industry wants to make instant megabuck profits from the their inventions, and sometimes will not even sell the technology if they feel the new technology could help their competition more than it helps themselves. So I guess we have to wait for the patents to wear off in 20 years.

    • Looking at the average Congressman, they need to cut the use of KFC.

  8. re: ” It authorizes a sweeping set of new renewable energy measures, including tax credit extensions and new research and development programs for solar, wind and energy storage; funding for energy efficiency projects; upgrades to the electric grid and a new commitment to research on removing carbon from the atmosphere. And it reauthorizes an Environmental Protection Agency program to curb emissions from diesel engines.

    The legislation also includes key language on the “sense of Congress” that the Energy Department must prioritize funding for research to power the United States with 100 percent “clean, renewable, or zero-emission energy sources” — a rare declaration that the nation should be striving toward net-zero carbon emissions.

    “This is perhaps the most significant climate legislation Congress has ever passed,” said Grant Carlisle, a senior policy adviser at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    The HFC measure, which empowers the EPA to cut the production and use of HFCs by 85 percent over the next 15 years, is expected to save as much as half a degree Celsius of warming by the end of the century. Scientists say the world needs to constrain the increase in the average global temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial times to avoid catastrophic, irreversible damage to the planet. Some places around the globe are already experiencing an average temperature rise beyond that threshold.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2020/12/21/congress-climate-spending/

    My GAWD – the GOP signed off on this? LORD!

    This is WORSE than Northam’s foolishness!

    Wait. This may be “fake” news – not a peep about it in WSJ !

  9. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/12/21/eastern-alps-may-have-been-ice-free-in-the-time-of-otzi-the-iceman/

    More on Otzi the Iceman for Dick. 🙂 The Usual Suspects will say Wattsupwiththat.com means is MUST be a lie, but look who actually published the research.

    • Baconator with extra cheese

      I will wait for John Kerry the Climate Czar-supreme to tell me what to believe thank you….
      Because in the age of woke it takes an old white man to explain to me how old white men are responsible for the world’s woes.

      • Well former VP Gore showed us you can have a huge carbon footprint as long as you bought your carbon credits you’re right with the Climate Change crew.

  10. Responding to Dick-

    Dick starts out with carbon tax, ends up talking about climate change. Carbon tax, even some major fossil fuel companies have provisionally supported (assuming regressive nature can be fixed). Not sure, but I think the reason some support carbon tax, is the cost is spread out to all fossil fuels users, whereas TCI says “let’s put a huge punitive whammy on the transport sector only”.

    I offer a Michael Moore view. ALL production energy is expensive beyond the up front cost, in terms of stewardship of the overall environment. Running around with 2-ton lithium battery cars with cobalt anodes mined in squalor, gets us exactly where in God’s green eye? Lest I forget Moore’s claim solar panels made cheaply from coal probably without pollution controls in China.

    It is never wrong to be a steward of the environment, but what we are getting in the USA is political dogma about the good guys and the deplorables.

    As far as Climate Change, it seems obvious climate change could be significantly speeding up the post-Ice Age warm up of the planet. Meanwhile world population still going up, and furthermore 50% of new born Americans are expected to live to Age 103.

    Bill O’Keefe put his finger on it yesterday. US Liberals recommend a philosophy of over-the-top assigning of extreme disaster, only to fossil fuels (CO2 and particulates etc). Furthermore, liberals calculate the fix must be implemented immediately , or we all die. And the fix is to destroy the American fossil fuel industry ASAP.

  11. Most people in fly-over America hate Washington, D.C., except for a vacation. What will they think when transportation and home energy bills sky-rocket? What happens when nobody gets a raise because the energy costs jumped? What happens when there are layoffs? Too bad all the woke denizens of Metro D.C. don’t remember what happened during the Arab Oil Embargo and when Jimmy Carter scolded us.

    I only hope to see the day when America elects a Congress bent on destroying the livelihoods of those of us who profit from the operations of the federal government. Heck, I’d be happy if Congress stripped the nonprofit status of any organization that spends any money to influence public policy.

  12. Coming soon to the Apple Store near you — iCar 1.0

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