Department of Environmental Commission Daniel C. Esty was roasted by members of the Republican Party Thursday for a New York Times column he co-authored which promotes the same carbon tax he wrote about in his book published in 2006.
“While every other government in the country is trying to figure out how to make gas and energy cheaper, our governor’s energy and environmental czar is trying to make sure prices become truly unaffordable beginning in 2012,” House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said in a statement. He called the proposal to impose a $5 surcharge on every ton of greenhouse gas emissions, which Esty called for the in the column, “insane.” It’s the same carbon charge Esty has been promoting for more than five years now.
Esty was asked about the carbon charge he proposed in the book at his confirmation hearing back in March. But said it’s not something he’s proposing on a state level in Connecticut.
“The best way to drive energy innovation would be an emissions charge of $5 per ton of greenhouse gases beginning in 2012, rising to $100 per ton by 2032. The low initial charge, starting next year, would make the short-term burden on consumers and businesses almost negligible,” Esty and co-author Michael E. Porter, a Harvard Business School professor wrote in the Times column. It’s the same sentiment he shared at the ‘No Labels’ gathering last December in New York.
Click here for more background on Esty’s argument on the “harm charge,” or “carbon tax.”
Esty told the Executive and Nominations Committee during his hearing in March that the premise is rooted in private property law where if harm is done to property the person doing the harm is expected to pay for the damages. He said the same principles apply to the idea of a carbon tax.
In the column he argues the $5 per ton proposal is modest and considering the federal deficit “will look attractive compared with raising individual income taxes or burdening the economy with new corporate or payroll taxes.”
He argues the goal is not to raise revenue, but create a shift toward clean renewable sources of energy.
But all the Republicans seem to read was the word tax and they began to do the math.
Cafero estimated Connecticut emits 17 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, so under Esty’s proposal it would result in $85 million in new gas taxes.
“We don’t need another taxpayer financed state employee wasting our time trying to make federal policy, we need a government that should be working with business to comply with the laws, not threaten them,“ Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy said in his statement.
Healy suggested Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who nominated Esty, publicly rebuke his commissioner’s statements.
“Had we known Chris Healy was so keenly interested in environmental and energy policy, we would have taken a closer look at him for a position within the administration,“ Colleen Flanagan, Malloy’s spokeswoman said. “Certainly each and every one of Chris’ well-intentioned suggestions will be reviewed and taken into consideration.”