In September former congressman, Bob Inglis, took a two-day whirlwind tour of Utah engaging in lively discussions about clean air, energy and climate. Bob discussed how acknowledging human-caused climate change had been anathema to him during his first term in congress. As a conservative Republican, accepting that carbon emissions were causing our planet to warm was unthinkable. This notion seemed to lead down a path toward larger government and increased regulations. His loyalty to his party kept him from looking at climate science for many years. That all changed when his son turned 18, and became eligible to vote.
Not only was his son eager to see the Congressman clean up his act on the environment, so were his wife and 4 daughters. His new constituency (he jokes, who had the ability to change the locks on his house) got him to take a look into the science. His research unequivocally proved to him that human-caused climate change was the greatest challenge of our time, and needed to be addressed.
With this new knowledge Bob began an investigation into ways his party could meet the challenge. He found that not only could his party address the challenge within the frame work of their principles, but from his perspective conservatives had the best answer; the free-market.
Inglis shows how removing all subsidies from all energy sources, and letting the free-market work, can transform the energy market, while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions. With his plan there would be no more Solyndras, no more accelerated depreciation for oil and gas, no more Production Tax Credits for wind, and no more below-market leasing on federal lands for extraction. And he says we must remove the biggest energy subsidy of all; allowing carbon based energy companies to burn, belch and pollute for free. Bob believes that allowing companies to socialize these costs while privatizing the profits, goes against the basics of free-market principles. Until now, this hidden subsidy has been the status quo. Bob’s plan calls for a revenue neutral carbon tax to justly account for this market inequity.
To keep a carbon tax revenue neutral, Inglis suggests a tax swap. Lowering taxes on income and raising taxes on carbon emissions. Here he and Art Laugher, economic advisor to President Regan, agree. By decreasing taxes on what we want more of – income, and taxing what we want less of – pollution, everyone wins. Bob lays out the details of his plan at the Energy & Enterprise Initiative’s non-profit, non-partisan website.
Bob’s visit was made possible with the collaboration of our partners at the Nature Conservancy, the Utah Chapter of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, Utah Interfaith Power & Light staff as well as many other involved citizens. Thank you to all who made this visit possible and to the hundreds of those who got involved in the discussions.