By Scott Tong

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, now an economist at Harvard University, argued today in the Washington Post and the Financial Times that the case for a carbon tax is “overwhelming” given the low price of gasoline. The average price per gallon in the U.S. is $2.20. Adding a $.25 tax would take it to $2.45.

“Doing that against a backdrop where gas prices have declined $1.50, it’s a very rare opportunity,” says energy and environment economist Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman professor at the University of Chicago. Even at the University of Chicago, a shrine to free-market theories, taxing carbon is a mainstream concept, Greenstone says.

“Drawing from the far right of the economics profession all the way to the far left, this is not a political issue,” Greenstone says. “This is blackboard economics.”

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