By Michael Greenstone
As much as 67% of Americans might support a carbon tax, according to a new poll from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and the Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Why it matters: 98% of economists believe that the least expensive way to slow climate change is to put a price on carbon emissions through a cap-and-trade system or tax. Although economists also suggest using revenues from carbon pricing to reduce income taxes — taxing a “bad” (carbon emissions) to reduce taxes on a “good” (income) — these poll results suggest voters prefer pairing carbon taxes with environmental spending.
Reality check: The politics of carbon pricing are challenging. Progressive Washington State has twice rejected referendums to put a price on carbon, at least partially because of aggressive advertising campaigns by fossil fuel companies and questions about how the money would be spent. Further, the American Clean Energy and Security Act failed to get a vote in the Senate in 2010, and the House of Representatives even passed a resolution last summer denouncing the idea of a carbon tax.