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Are We Ignoring Climate Change or The Ill Conceived and Inequitable Proposed Solutions

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.Could it be that we (the citizens) are not rejecting the call of our scientists but find serious fault with the solutions they put forth

Let us examine the proposed carbon tax. It is sold based on the premise that it would yield charges more in keeping with the true costs of the carbon we use and that such pricing would lead to better choices. Really? Just exactly how do we in Kansa not use coal for our utilities in the immediate future? We have no free market in which to choose.

At a reasonable rate increase it will take upwards of a generation to replace our coal plants with renewable energy supported by something like gas turbines to fill in when there is no wind. We will not have a robust power distribution system for at least a decade so until then we can not even buy from most other places. From where does the alternative come?

The reality is that we will pay through the nose for a carbon tax while those in Washington state using hydroelectric power will not. If this is a national problem it would seem that a national investment in replacing high carbon generators is more appropriate then a market solution where there is no market.

Now to further discredit this approach we have those that want to turn the carbon tax into a massive financial redistribution process. So instead of a national effort we have a process that penalizes those using coal and then further redistributes the incomes of the middle class in the coal burning regions.

Why would those burning coal want to sign up for this approach? Where is the shared sacrifice? Why are we not approaching this challenge as a nation instead of using punitive methods to “punish” the evil coal users?

Just maybe it is not the message transmitted by our scientists but the highly inequitable proposed solution that is causing people to hesitate in jumping into the deep end of this pool.

Comments

georgeofwesternkansas 1 year, 4 months ago

Wind energy is a joke, In this day and age we need reliable and constant eneryg sources. Next time you are traveling across state to see grandma drive your wind powered car for 800 miles. Or maybe you farmers can use your wind powered tractors to get the crop in next spring.

How are we making these carbon atoms we seem to be releasing into the air??

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 4 months ago

On second thought, I'm really not seeing anything in your plan that addresses the fact that congress will not in a million years pass an income tax hike to do what you want to do. Because of your not addressing this elephant in the room, I really see no need for me to take more of my time going further down this path. Of course if you have some workaround that you have yet to share on how to get around this wall, I'm all ears, but I'm not holding my breath.

Furthermore, I've laid out what a rational person would conclude are at least honest attempts to address your concerns about a carbon fee and dividend plan creating undue burdens on the middle class, regional disparities, assisting folks in need during the transition to a more energy efficient lifestyle, a more resilient and responsive energy grid and one based increasingly on renewables. Since you continue to ignore the information I've provided, or are sort of incorporating them into your plan of late, I must come to the conclusion that you are not interested in an honest dialogue. I am not even saying that a carbon fee and dividend plan is the only way to go, but your plan is certainly not a viable alternative, so I feel I'm wasting my time and other peoples' eyes debating you on this. Given this evidence, I must bid this conversation adieu and wish you the best in however you want to describe your mission.

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 4 months ago

I detect a bit of a shift that reveals a glimmer of a mechanism for your unpassable income tax hike financed energy plan. You will collect the tax from everyone, plus somehow tax the corporations even more, perhaps through a carbon fee which will be passed on to consumers, and all of these taxes and fees will be given to utilities to promote energy efficiency and renewables? Is this what you are proposing? Just a clarifying question, as you have provided so few details to your tax-across-the-board scheme, which still defies the political impossibility of passing such a tax through congress. I want to be sure I understand what you are proposing before asking any more questions/making any more observations.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 4 months ago

Lastly, there are corporate generators. They are motivated by profit. Increasing their costs will certainly motivate them to make investments in reducing their costs. A carbon tax would be just fine for this target. Of course regulatory solutions will do well here without making my farmer pay because we are after GE. You have my blessing in carbon taxing corporations all you want with the understanding that they will pass those costs on to most of us. Of course our history with large corporation indicates they will get exemptions from the carbon tax (or probably my income tax) because they always have. Tax them more and you will drive more of them offshore. Addressing corporations requires some real; thought.

I have paid attention to you and reject your punitive solution. I want to direct resources near term to the biggest contributors - utilities - an area already substantially under government control. Following that I want to help (not tax) people to make their homes more energy efficient. I support the president’s efforts to regulate carbon if directed at corporate polluters and utilities (when coupled with my tax that provides national resources to address the utilities problem).

My approach is broad based, focused and equitable. Your solution is punitive, motivated by the perception that you must selective "punish" people because you do not have broad support in paying for what you want at the pace you want it. Shades of Obama Care.

You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people (democrats) all of the time but you cannot fool us all every time. A carbon tax is inequitable and poorly focused - and note, I have not even addressed the economic dislocation it would cause in the high carbon regions.

Give it up guys/gals.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 4 months ago

Your concerns, all of which are political, basically come down to a fear that Congress will do nothing with a broad tax so you want to play what Clinton call triangulation. Put the burden on a minority of the population with givebacks to traditional Democratic Voters. Makes you feel good but does not directly drive the real pollution sources.

Utilities are one major source. We control them. WE can already make them address climate change as fast as we want. The driver must however be mitigated by how much costs the rate payers can manage. Since some areas are carbon intensive and others are not. This should be paid nationally rather than stuck to those who have traditionally used coal. Many of these need a national solution anyway. Why create a bureaucracy to move money around regionally when you can use existing bureaucracy (KCC) to target what needs to be done.

Autos are another major source. We have driven CAFE standards way up. My Hybrid was no more expensive than a regular vehicle (same make and model) so we are already subsidizing carbon mitigation. That is also being addressed as fast as the economy can absorb the changes. I do not see what a carbon tax buys here other than a feel good effort. And don't tell me public transportation. The cost differential is so great no rational carbon tax will make much difference.

The next major hurdle is personal living space. Since fixing most issues with structures is a costly proposition where return takes years a carbon tax, unless really high, will make little impact on decisions. It will remove funds that the property owner might have contributed to doing what actually needs to be done - energy efficiency. It is also very inequitable as new homes are much more energy efficient and older ones are not so with a carbon tax you choose to punish people for choices made historically and which take a lot of time and money to fix. We have already changed building codes so that future structure will be more energy efficient. In time the already existing incentives will cause people to make energy efficient choices.

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vinyl_chloride 1 year, 4 months ago

carbon tax will RUIN the American economy, that's exactly what the enviro-whackos want.

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Chris Golledge 1 year, 4 months ago

Moderate, I find that you are repeating many of the talking point myths discussed here. I suggest you check your sources. Who told you that a carbon tax would fund climate research? The proponents are firm in the position that it should be revenue-neutral; that means nothing can be funded with it, including climate research.

http://www.carbontax.org/myths/

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George Lippencott 1 year, 4 months ago

I am 70 and very cranky. I am tired of all sorts of notions by the left that redistribute money I spent a lifetime earning to people who are in the early phases of their lives. The proposed carbon tax is just one more of those. At a personal level carbon use tends to relate to income levels. The proposed carbon tax I address takes money form the higher carbon generators and after siphoning off portion for various government programs gives some back to lower income folk. Thai is called redistribution.

After having spent a lifetime contributing to various government programs trying to address all sorts of wrongs (poverty, environment, health, drugs, etc.) now I am bring nominated to disproportionally contribute to another. The younger set (Gen X and Y) have only begun to contribute as their taxes tend to be much lower than those who are older. This misbegotten creation (carbon tax) will impact them little but in their hedonistic heads it will punish those who created the problem.

The highway system, moon landing, our wars, and the programs I mentioned above were all national efforts paid from the common pot. That is exactly how we should begin to address the carbon problem. In time after we have addressed the sunk costs of existing infrastructure we can move to a market based solution. There is no market based solution to this infrastructure problem in the short run.

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Boston_Corbett 1 year, 4 months ago

When someone uses the handle "moderate" you may rest assured they are not.

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overplayedhistory 1 year, 5 months ago

I am 65 and cranky. Dying is expensive and I don't want to be taxed or offer solutions for my progeny to live on. After all those times my kids did not clean up after themselves, it serves them right to have to clean up after me. Brought them into this world, taught them mindless consumerism because it had worked so well for me, so what if it was unsustainable, it's their problem now.

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LJ Whirled 1 year, 5 months ago

Climate change might be a positive.

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Chris Golledge 1 year, 5 months ago

How, exactly, do you think paying more generalized taxes to the feds will result is less carbon production? What, exactly, do you imagine the feds doing with the money that will result in less CO2 production?

Why is it you think a tax targeting carbon use will cause a 30% reduction in standard of living, and your general tax will not?

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George Lippencott 1 year, 5 months ago

JAFS and Doug County et al

Really rich people will not be impacted by a carbon tax one bit.

The real issue and the one you refuse to address is that a carbon tax hurts the middle class selectively and most heavily on those dependent on carbon energy. Since addressing that use will take decades you are punishing those people for something they did not do and cannot fix quickly because you now want to change the way we live and do so in a hurry.

We are in a useless argument. Your solution, Doug County, is political and not technical. It transfers income AND further reduces the standard of living of the American middle class after the near 14% reduction that has already been achieved - in part because of earlier efforts at climate change mitigation

Do you think for a moment that thinking people have not realized that the decision to compete the American worker with mush cheaper foreign workers was in no small part a direct effort to reduce carbon consumption in this country?

Do you really think that a 30% reduction in living standard in a generation will not lead to political consequences or are you banking on my argument being accurate and only a portion of the electorate being impacted so that we can divide it and press on however unequally we chose to do so?

Is it not interesting that the Red States are likely to be hit the hardest with your proposed solution? I wonder what impact a carbon tax will have on our elites – most of whom live in locations not likely to be heavily impacted. This is the real reason you reject a general tax increase because you want to divide and conquer.

AS I opined at the beginning, some of us have figured out that the SOLUTION being offered to address climate change is the problem and not the need to address climate change. Look at the fire and brimstone (water in NY, etc.) and not at the curtain (no jobs in Kansas).

A general tax is the answer to a national problem

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tange 1 year, 5 months ago

Just the other day, my kid shared this: "If you’re 27 or younger, you’ve never experienced a colder-than-average month."

http://grist.org/news/if-youre-27-or-younger-youve-never-experienced-a-colder-than-average-month/

_

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

When Mother Earth was born there were not billions of gas powered vehicles around nor were there millions of coal fired plants scattered about the planet nor were there millions of farmers being convinced that toxic chemicals were healthy for our food and water supply.

Cancer and carcinogenic chemicals make love to each other yet the experience is at the least quite painful, frequently fatal and most certainly expensive. Why do we humans accept this nonsense?

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

*--- Global Warming 101 by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

  • What is global warming? Think of a blanket, covering the Earth.

--- When CO2 and other heat-trapping emissions are released into the air, they act like a blanket, holding heat in our atmosphere and warming the planet.

--- Overloading our atmosphere with carbon has far-reaching effects for people all around the world—more extreme storms, more severe droughts, deadly heat waves, rising sea levels, and more acidic oceans, which can affect the very base of the food chain.

* What causes global warming? We do.

Tropical deforestation, also by human hands, is another major contributor. When these forests are burned, they release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and because the forests no longer exist, they are no longer available to absorb CO2.

*Who can reduce global warming? We can.

--- But we can also help by calling for government and corporate decision makers to reduce the threat of global warming.

USA could place limits on the amount of carbon that polluters are allowed to emit.

USA could be investing way more in clean and efficient energy technologies, industries, and approaches.

USA could be expanding the use of renewable energy.

USA could be more aggressively increasing the efficiency of the cars we drive .

USA should be reducing tropical deforestation and wildfire risks and taking other steps to transform our energy system to one that is cleaner and less dependent on oil, coal, and other fossil fuels.

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/big_picture_solutions/climate-2030-blueprint.html

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blindrabbit 1 year, 5 months ago

All of you posters who claim to have a logical, scientific solution to aleviating Climate Change/Global Warming issues are looking in the wrong direction and on top of that you are blaspheming against the Lord. According to the environmental sage of the U.S. Senate and Ranking Minority Chairman of the Senate's Committee on Environment and Public Works, James Mountain Inhofe (R-Okla.) all of this nonsense is refuted in a close reading of the Bible. James has been known to also have some issues with the "Age of the Earth", Supporting Creationism is Public Education, and is an avid supporter of the Dubya/Darth prior regime. Additionally, James has been baptized in crude oil and natural gas and fed at the trough of the oil industry. The sad thing is that Inhofe is in a position to throw a monkey wrench into comprehensive environmental legislation in the Senate, due to his Fundamentalist ideas.

We can take some satisfaction in the fact that Oklahoma has borne the brunt of many environmental issues that may relate to the very things that Inhofe has opposed, including record droughts, tornadoes, prairie fires, and debilitating rains and snows. Inhofe must be correct, as the Lord is repaying the residents of Oklahoma for not fully following his admonishments.

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msezdsit 1 year, 5 months ago

"Are We Ignoring Climate Change or The Ill Conceived and Inequitable Proposed Solutions"

You make this comment as if we have a choice to ignore the solutions while we suffer the results. We pay either way. Which would you choose? No choice is to have that choice made for you by suffering the frequency of consequences. Ie., Sandy, Katrina, f5 tornadoes.....................on and on and on.

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jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

Some numbers from the UN report.

Apparently we've increased emissions world wide by 20% since 2000, and we'd need to reduce them by 14% by 2020, to limit the increase in temperatures to about 3.5%, which must be meaningful in some way, although I'm sure that even that much of an increase will have negative effects on the planet and life on it.

We're not on track with that goal, and there's a large disparity between projected use and that 14% reduction.

Certainly in this country, it's pretty easy for people to lower their use by 14%, without suffering very much, if at all, just by using common sense and mindfulness.

Why aren't we doing that?

On a personal note, I will say that we use a lot less energy and water than most, and I've been concerned about the environment and human actions that destroy it for many years (even before Al Gore!). And, we have modern conveniences like CH/A, washer/dryer, dishwasher, etc. and are quite comfortable.

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msezdsit 1 year, 5 months ago

"At a reasonable rate increase it will take upwards of a generation to replace our coal plants with renewable energy supported by something like gas turbines to fill in when there is no wind. We will not have a robust power distribution system for at least a decade so until then we can not even buy from most other places. From where does the alternative come?" moderate.

Don't take this as agreeing with your narrative but just remember Jimmy Carter addressed this issue a couple generations ago and he was swept out of office. We could now quite likely be free of fossil fuel use had we just kept on the course Jimmy Carter tried to establish.

My point being: To complain about how long this will take and use that as an excuse to, as they say in congress these days, "just kick the can down the road" is no solution at all. By just conservative use of energy "we the people" could do a lot towards helping move toward a solution. Thats why I am always appreciative when I see people who could afford to pay whatever it costs for energy so long as its available choose to conserve their energy use for the better of all the people. People who can't afford the energy conserve due to their economic situation.

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Machiavelli_mania 1 year, 5 months ago

I have a great solution, since we are unable to stop the natural process of climate change: Adapt!

This isn't just my advice. This is the advice of a anthropogenic climate change theorist.

Meanwhile, the sun hits it's solar max in 2013. Are you prepared for the what may come? I am doing my very best to prepare.

Watch, prepare, and wait: http://www.solarham.net/ http://www.spaceweather.com/?rss=rss-wtvg-snippet-6324727 http://www.n3kl.org/sun/noaa.html http://www.solen.info/solar/

It is my understanding that the entire solar system is warming.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 5 months ago

One of the challenges in writing about climate change is that the advocates almost inevitably change the issues through duplicity or zealotry. There is nothing that angers me more than such Sophistry.

Nowhere did I challenge the seriousness of climate change. Nowhere did I suggest we ignore it. No where did I say a carbon tax can not work. My single point repeated over and over was that a carbon tax is inequitable because it hits hardest on the very people who need to address the problem the most. It rewards those who by luck live in places with alternative low cost carbon solutions and punishes those who live in place that are heavy carbon polluters mostly through no fault of their own.

My singular solution is to tax the populace (income tax surcharge) and use the resources to allocate funding to address the worst carbon sources. You can go as fast or as slow as you want based on the size of the tax.

Clearly that does not relieve all of us of making individual efforts to address the problem but it does not force people of modest means to dedicate there existence at the expense of all other aspects of their lives to fixing things that take decades to fix..

One can come up with all kinds of schemes to redistribute wealth through a carbon tax but no matter how you slice it that tax will be pejorative on people who have done nothing wrong.

National Policy goals should be solved by nation decisions and national action where we are all treated equally. The carbon tax remains by its nature a mechanism to redistribute wealth from the middle class to construction and manufacturing companies!

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Chris Golledge 1 year, 5 months ago

More info

http://www.eia.gov/beta/state/?sid=WA

Looking at that, it strikes me that Moderate is asking that Washington subsidize the conversion of energy production to renewables for other states after they are already paying the price to make the shift for themselves. See the State of Washington's Energy Independence Act.

Yes, Moderate, you are ignoring climate change. It is a bigger problem than anything you have mentioned.

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Chris Golledge 1 year, 5 months ago

"Just exactly how do we in Kansa not use coal for our utilities in the immediate future?" No one is asking you to. Even Jim Hansen recommends a phased-in carbon tax in order to give the market time to shift.

"At a reasonable rate increase it will take upwards of a generation to replace our coal plants with renewable energy ..." Yes, it will. And since we are already suffering from more that 10 times the incidence of heat waves prior to 1980, and we have seen examples from Australia, Russia, Europe, and right here at home the kind of damage that does to agriculture, I'm wondering how much longer you want to wait to take mitigating action. Should we wait until the heat and drought of the past couple of years become a 1 in 5 year event instead of the 1 in 10 that it has recently become (measured globally)?

"Why would those burning coal want to sign up for this approach?" Because it beats the pants off of creating another dust bowl. Meh, Washington has water; we have wind. In terms of energy in versus energy out, wind is quicker to set up and has a more rapid rate of return than water.

"Simply continuing to repeat that money will be returned to a select few.." One proposed solution is to return the tax is a dividend to the general population. Not sure how you see that as a select few.

Moderate, you complain about the cost of doing something, while you ignore the cost of doing nothing. Doing nothing is already costing us. This year the U.S. is looking at the neighborhood of $90 billion in losses from climate change events, and the cost will keep rising the longer we delay. So far, there has been about 0.8 C of warming, and weather patterns are already shifting. By choosing to do nothing, you are suggesting that we accelerate past 2 C of warming. Past 2 degrees, and the kind of summer we just had may well be the rule rather than the exception.

You are saying that the proposed solutions are not perfect; maybe they aren't. But at this point, there are no perfect solutions; we can only choose the best of the options available.

BTW, you should know that a carbon tax applies to all fossil fuels, mostly at the source, where it is easier to track. A fuel would be taxed in proportion to the C in it. Coal is mostly C; oil a bit less, and natural gas less still = 1 C for every 4 H. You keep going on about coal, but a carbon tax should be applied to all fossil fuels.

Some info for the curious:

Coal plants http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Existing_U.S._Coal_Plants

Carbon tax http://www.carbontax.org/

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 5 months ago

Well, I'd have to agree with you that we are talking past each other, and frankly I'm not sure you're listening. This is a very muddled conversation partly because you bring up points to which I respond to, and instead of responding to my responses to move the conversation ahead, you jump to another pronouncement. You also claim to be reading up the sources I provide to you and yet I never hear back from you about what you think. The Princeton energy wedges to reduce carbon emissions is a prime example of this. But I'll play along at least a little while longer just because, I guess.

If I read your comments right, you are proposing that we tax everyone and use the taxes collected to somehow transform our fossil fuel based energy production to low carbon sources. And yet you complain about how the carbon fee and dividend plan is not market based and redistributes income??? Are you sure you are not describing your plan? Exactly what mechanism are you going to use to take all of your collected taxes and transform the energy sector?

Adding a carbon fee at the source: the coal mine, the oil pump, the gas well clearly links the fee to the source of the carbon, and does it as a clear economic signal that will allow investors to develop alternatives in a way that your "tax everyone" approach does not. How will your "tax everyone" approach transform the energy sector? You are very short on specifics here. And as far as there not being anything for us folks in Kansas to do except pay higher and higher coal fired energy bills as the carbon fee goes up, well that's showing an immense lack of imagination on your part as far as I can see. Even the Brownback Administration has set a renewables portfolio goal of 20% renewables by 2020, only 8 years away. 50% by 2050 is looking more and more and more reasonable, especially if you have the clear economic signal that a carbon fee and dividend would provide. Furthermore, I don't see how your tax everyone approach will provide any different set of energy sources to Kansans than the carbon fee and dividend approach will provide.

Lastly, you say it is unfair to Kansas that Washington State wouldn't have to pay a fee for their hydro electricity and we would. Firstly, they are one of the few states that get a significant amount of their electricity from hydro, so this discrepancy would be apparent between Washington state and practically every other state besides Kansas, so we won't really be singled out. Secondly, because of this, Washington customers already pay significantly less per kWh than Kansas customers, so there is already a disparity, which will increase with a carbon fee, but it will be an increased disparity between Washington and practically every other state too, so once again, the economic signal will apply for every other state to reduce their waste and ramp up their renewables.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 5 months ago

Doug coiuny we are talking past each other. The point remains and you have not addressed it that those in areas with alternative sources of power will pay less, perhaps far less than those heavily dependent on coal. The return will not even it out as those in coal areas do generate more carbon.

The Kansas farmer, through no fault of his own, will get had while the Washington couple will be rewarded for that which they did not do.

Yes the theory is that some of the money will go to energy efficiency. The target is those of lesser means. The farmer will likely not qualify and the couple needs none.

The bottom line is that your entire process is a thinly concealed wealth transfer from those unlucky enough to live in high carbon use areas.

Simply continuing to repeat that money will be returned to a select few does not in any measure negate my points.

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In_God_we_trust 1 year, 5 months ago

I like the idea that the farmer / rancher in Garnett has to offer. He thinks that a carbon tax is directly out of the United Nations. So he doesn't like it for his country. So he decides to apply himself and experiment into areas that college science won't consider. In the process he comes up with a motor that can operate above 100% electrical efficiency. He is excited and inspired by his finding and further decides to continue his research and works on developing a self running generator. He thinks from tests that he is near to achieving a self running generator, after showing his patent physics attorney with surprise. These devices could be capable of running day and night, whether the sun shines or not, or whether the wind blows or not. The farmer is all smiles looking at the future, but finds he needs grants and funding for his devices to be developed, so his inventions can become a reality and help the people of his state and country.

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 5 months ago

Continued: Now none of my scenario response above even talks about the carbon dividend. Joe decides he wants to pay back the energy efficiency investments bill more quickly than he can using the lowered gas bill, which does take 2 years to pay off due to the carbon fee added to it. He decides to take his carbon dividend and pay off the loan early, because he's afraid that the increased carbon fee next year will increase the amount of time it takes to pay off the loan by just using saved monies from using less. Now the next year, the carbon fee goes up, raising his bill some, but it also increases his dividend, and he can now ponder to spend some of that dividend on even more energy saving measures identified by the audit. He decides to go get a new energy efficient hot water heater, putting the dividend up for the down payment, getting an energy tax credit for a further reduction in his costs, and even lower monthly utility bills to boot. Life ain't so bad after all in rural Kansas, and he and Betty decide to stay on the farm a couple more years, letting their house appreciate a little more and paying lower bills to boot, with their lower gas/propane consumption and annual carbon dividend paying for the price hikes caused by the carbon fees.

Meanwhile the young couple who are already in an energy efficient, low carbon home, keep their annual carbon dividend checks until they have enough saved up to install some photovoltaic panels to reduce their fossil fuel consumption even further. The marginal payback on PV in the cloudy Pacific Northwest made it unattractive financially even with tax credits, but with a few years of money saved up from the dividend checks, they were able to pay enough up front to make the payback time financially attractive, getting out from under some of the increasing electrical bill, and improving the resale value of their home to boot.

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 5 months ago

While you're reading, I'll make some observations: Point 1: Not sure where you're getting your information, but check out the citizensclimatelobby.org website, specifically the FAQ page found here: http://www.citizensclimatelobby.org/node/444 and you'll see that your concerns are unfounded. First, a clarification: some folks want to use the carbon fee to pay down the debt, while others want to give it directly back to consumers, and I'm in the latter school, as is the CCL. The fee in this scenario is a progressive tax not because rich folks don't get a dividend, but because the dividend doesn't cover all of the increased carbon costs because they emit more than what the dividend will cover. Both rich and poor alike receive the same amount, and the sum will be a net plus for those who emit less, which is the case with poorer folks and folks who choose to reduce their carbon footprint.

Point 2: the dividend helps finance loans for energy efficiency retrofits, which combined with utility efficiency programs, will make weatherization and energy efficiency measures quite an attractive investments for virtually anyone, even those who don't have cash up front to pay for it. See my ACEEE review of Kansas programs elsewhere for details on how much better job we can do here in our state to stimulate improvements like many other states have done to reduce energy waste.

Example 1: Retired farmer Joe calls KCPL and signs up for an energy audit, has his house examined by a certified energy efficiency expert who identifies the biggest problems in his house, which in his case is the lack of insulation and draftiness of the old farmhouse. He then decides to pursue the insulation and weatherization, which qualifies him for a $600 rebate that goes toward the audit and costs of installing. After the qualified contractor finishes the job, it is inspected and approved by the utility, and Joe receives starts paying back whatever is left after the rebate. Fortunately, he is paying around $100 less in heating bills, so he breaks even in his investment for a tighter house in only 2 years, using the money saved to make the payments. Furthermore, as part of upcoming disclosure programs, Joe and Betty are able to get considerably better price on their home when they move into Garnett Assisted Living because their home doesn't cost as much to heat and cool any more. Note: This is using a Missouri energy efficiency program as an example. Some states have even better deals, and Kansas has yet to get its act together to come up with a more effective program.

I'll continue on a separate post; don't want to go over word limit!

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George Lippencott 1 year, 5 months ago

Sorry, I generated this before I saw your note and your adds on the other blogs. Will go read and see if they address my challenges above.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 5 months ago

Point 1: Those who pay a higher carbon tax will get more back. Not my understanding. The only people to get money back are those who have lower incomes. The rest of the money goes to climate research. The exact split is not quantified. But I believe it to be reasonable to assume most Kansans would get little or nothing back while paying a lot more than most Washingtonians. Not only must they pay the tax, they must pay for the capital cost to replace the facilities that generate the costs.

Point 2: Yes, energy efficiency is a great idea. It works wonderfully for those with high net worth who have the resources to buy the efficiency (equipment or structural enhancements) needed to create the efficiency. They can wait for the return. For the rest, while paying the higher carbon tax they can also borrow money to pay for the energy efficiency investments and watch as overtime they get a return on their investment (but not much on their tax and probably not enough to service the loan).

Comment: It is great theory and works well theoretically at the aggregate level. It falls apart when you consider individual impacts and responses.

Example 1: My mythical Kansas farmer retired on the farm fifteen miles southwest of Garnett with income from social security, savings and leasing property to others to grow crops. The homestead is 75 years old, large and inefficient. They drive to town several times a week for food, entertainment and church (30 miles round trip). They will pay a large (relatively) carbon tax on their gas and coal generated power. They do not have a lot of capital to invest in efficiency. For many things the cost of the efficiency (even given the carbon tax) will not be returned in their lifetime. Now, tell me again how a carbon tax is something that helps these people?

Meanwhile we have a young couple in a starter home with all the current efficiency initiatives installed. They live in a mid-size city in with public transportation in central Washington and draw their power from hydroelectric sources. Their carbon footprint is low and their carbon tax will also be low. The energy efficiency is already built into their home. The Kansans will see what little they have accumulated toward their retirement decremented significantly by the tax, the cost of the power and the costs of whatever energy efficiency they can afford. The carbon tax hardly touches the two wage earner suburban couple.

Why should the circumstance of living play so much into the amount of a tax to be levied by the government? Why not just tax everybody (income tax surcharge) to provide for research and for capital investment in plant and equipment to address nationally our older generating systems and our inadequate distribution systems. Everybody pays as everybody will benefit from the cleaner environment. Energy efficiency plays when it makes financial sense to the payee. If we want to go faster we subsidize it for all.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 5 months ago

Doug County you have consumed deeply the chalice of climate change. I will respond after doing my chores.

But my response will address your corporate argument as opposed to my individual impact argument

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Patrick Freeland 1 year, 5 months ago

It bothers me a little when I continuously hear about "market based" solutions. However, in the case of emissions into an atmosphere, the impacts of pollution become non-excludable, and to some degree, non-rival. Any economist will tell you that non-rivalry and non-excludability is an indication of a market failure.

A tax on emissions per tonne is the most effective method to reduce emissions based on actual demand. If people wish to use energy, then they will pay an indirect-tax in the form of higher utility costs, while total welfare loss due to a tax will increase the marginal social benefit by allowing the externalities of pollution (NOx Aerosols, GHGs, Heavy Metals, etc.) to be factored into the actual price.

By the way... at the end of the day, should a carbon-tax make it through the appropriate legislative bodies, the price per tonne of emissions is usually around $7-11. That's not thru the nose. That's barely anything. When it comes to "policy" it's rarely ever scientists who put forward propositions, the role of science is to ask questions and weed out the bulls**t. Economists don't even propose policy, they simply analyze policy to identify the most likely scenarios of welfare loss/gain as a result of a particular policy.

You do point out something incredibly pertinent in your comment. There is no energy source on this planet as efficient as a hydrocarbon. Zero. It's interesting to track the use of energy, from the truly ecological perspective of interspecific competition, where the "species" in the sense are in fact corpora of humans. In almost every example of natural resource management, some simple patterns are followed... perhaps a true scientist would not propose any solution in any situation, rather instead simply stand back and watch.

Enjoy your life while you can...

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 5 months ago

You have completely overlooked the biggest alternative to people using their carbon fee dividends to pay for higher utility fees: energy efficiency. And Kansas is one of the worst of the states when it comes to energy efficiency--we rate 45th out of 50, according to the ACEEE study that rates each state on their policies that promote or get in the way of decreasing the amount of waste currently in our energy use patterns: http://aceee.org/sector/state-policy/kansas

Another way to put this is that Kansas has an extremely high probability of getting an excellent return on our energy efficiency investments because we have done such a poor job doing it so far. States who have approached this more proactively than Kansas have been able to shave 20% off of energy production needs simply by reducing the amount of waste in the system.

Why is this important in your hydro state vs. coal burning state income transfer "problem"? Because a place like Washington State, which has a lot of hydro, won't be getting many dividends from emitting lots of carbon, so they won't have as much money to help finance energy efficiency improvements, or for investing in renewables. Hence the fact that Kansas burns lots of coal means that they will benefit more from carbon fee and dividend in that it will be given more resources to change the situation, and since we have much room for improvement, we can do just that.

Do you get it now? If you stop wasting so much energy, you can head off the need for building new coal capacity and instead add incrementally through renewables. Furthermore, the governor has set ambitious renewable energy standards which will create an incentive for utilities to do just that. The high costs of building new centralized power will make those alternatives less, not more attractive as time passes on and the additional overhead of having to design to higher pollution standards for such things as mercury pollution become mandatory. Carbon fee and dividend will just help us finance this process, speeding up a process through the daily decisions that consumers make when they decide how to spend that dividend.

Income transfer? Why? If we sell excess capacity in wind, people will be in a line to buy it and even pay to build transmission lines to get it. We will become renewable energy exporters in the same way we are with gas and oil. The main thing in our way from doing that are the folks in the fossil fuel industries who are like the good 'ol boys in Detroit who ignored the writing on the wall and kept producing gas guzzlers until they retired or left with their golden parachutes. Lets not make the same mistake here, because you're right about all of us paying--for the real costs of climate change, that is.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 5 months ago

The concept fails because there is no market where we in Kansas can by more efficient energy. We have already significantly increased our rates to bring on wind energy. and it will help but is not a replacement.

Bottom line you will tax people who have no alternative but to pay the tax while people blessed with hydroelectric options don't pay it. Public Policy should not be based on where you live and what utilities your great grandfathers selected.

Tax the populace and use the money to help Kansas and other regions dependent on coal to replace the heavy polluters. Get away from income transfer. We are all in this and we should all pay.;

See. I, as many others, are prepared to pay more just not disproportionately more because I live here.

We built the interstate highway system as a nation. We went to the moon as a nation. We should do likewise for the future power grid.

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 5 months ago

Who said we won't be able to use coal in Kansas or anywhere else if we implement a carbon tax? All the tax does is help incorporate the externalized expense of climate change to the fossil fuels that inject the carbon into the atmosphere, causing the climate change in the first place. You would still be able to use your carbon dividend to continue to buy the more expensive fossil fuels, coal included, or, alternatively, you could use that dividend to invest in energy efficiency and renewables so that you could pocket some of the money or at least buy less of the carbon rich stuff that is causing the problem.

That scenario sure sounds like the free market to me: you can choose to pay more and more expensive fossil fuels, or you can choose to take your money elsewhere. And yes, it will take probably more than a decade to make the transition away from fossil fuels, which will probably be always around just as there are still horses around even though most folks don't ride them to get to the grocery any more.

You have set up a straw dog, where you falsely paint the picture of horrid shortages caused by coal and oil being cut off and resulting pandemonium because the alternatives can't take up the slack. Well, did anyone go around taking all rotary phones out of everyone's homes, or were they gradually replaced by touch tone digital dialing over time? Is the land line disappearing because some governmental police is coming in and ripping them out of the walls? Or are folks just throwing in the towel and switching to cell phones to save money, incrementally one household at a time?

I don't see why you think that anyone has anything else in mind when it comes to energy production. As old coal fire plants are retired, a utility if it has been proactive will have reduced demand through aggressive energy efficiency programs, and if additional capacity is still needed, will hopefully invest in renewables and other system efficiencies to avoid having to build a new coal fired plant to replace the other one. This is the scenario that has been taking place all over the country, with over 100 new coal fired plants scrapped in the past decade. Part of this has been due to cheap natural gas, but efficiency and renewables have played a major role and should continue to do so if we level the playing field or even make incentives to help speed the process.

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