I have long thought that the best argument for market-based approaches to climate change mitigation was the clunkiness of the alternative. However much time EPA has spent trying to make the GHG regulations efficient, no one can say that EPA’s proposal is elegant.
Although it is at best a dim glimmer of hope on the horizon, it was nonetheless comforting to see Jerry Taylor of the Libertarian Niskanen Center make “The Conservative Case for a Carbon Tax.” While I don’t agree with every aspect of his proposal, and liberals will likely howl at some elements, it is certainly a principled approach and makes sense as something that could be the centerpiece of a grand bargain on climate change.
To me, it is the “compared to what” issue that is Taylor’s strongest argument, and I hope conservatives are listening. This pretty much gets it:
Lawsuits might stop the regulations, but only for a time. The agency’s rulemaking is vulnerable to a number of legal challenges. But as long as the EPA’s endangerment finding stands, a successful challenge to the rules will just send the agency back to the drawing board, with new rules to follow. There’s no guarantee that the new rules will be an improvement over the old rules.
I would only add that this is particularly true given that it is the most market-oriented parts of the rules that seem on the shakiest legal foundation.
A market-based approach to climate change mitigation is not going to happen in this Congress, but I remain hopeful.