The article looks like a solid take. Exxon “favors a carbon tax” but there is no record of its having urged elected officials to back carbon tax legislation. In fact, Exxon has famously invested millions of dollars in organizations that aggressively espouse climate-denial arguments, as the Union of Concerned Scientists has systematically documented. Exxon’s support for carbon taxing should be viewed critically and, um, skeptically.

Note: Remaining quotes on this page are circa 2008, i.e., not current.

Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO JPMorgan Chase & Co.: “[I]t would be a shame to let gas go below $3.50 or $3.25 a gallon – we should add the taxes to BTU, charge energy. We’ll all learn to be a lot more efficient … people aren’t gonna put $100 billion into alternative energy if oil can go back to $50. And it’s a commodity, there will be a surplus one day and it will go down… I think we’re going to have to give it back to lower paid people. You know, so they’re losing $2000 a year now on oil and on food, so it has to come out of payroll taxes or low income, and we shouldn’t be selfish about it.” Interview July 2008

Donald E. Felsinger, Chairman and CEO, Sempra Energy, the subject of a recent “Saturday Interview” in the New York Times, was asked if he believes “that some form of carbon emissions restrictions, perhaps in the form of a carbon tax, is inevitable?” He responded:

I believe they are inevitable. We are having debates within my own company about what is a better outcome, whether it be cap-and-trade or a tax. I think the most effective way to deal with carbon pollution is to have a carbon tax. Turning Energy Uncertainty Into Opportunity, May 3, 2008.

Jim Gordon, CEO, Energy Management, Inc. (developer of the Cape Wind windmill project in Nantucket Sound): “The scale, urgency and challenge of climate change and energy security require that all citizens and corporations either pay the health, military and environmental degradation costs of carbon emissions or begin to transition to a more sustainable future. Implementing a revenue neutral carbon tax is the most effective way of internalizing the real costs of burning fossil fuels and providing the pricing signal that will modify consumer behavior. A carbon tax rather than a cap and trade program will provide the best chance of ensuring a more rapid path to this sustainable future.” (Personal communication to CTC, March 29, 2008)

Bruce Williamson, CEO, Dynegy, quoted in a recent Houston Chronicle story, expressed strong support for a carbon tax, while recognizing that it would make some of his fellow energy company CEO’s uncomfortable:

Fellow power company CEOs “would probably cringe to hear me say it,” Williamson said, but he believes a federal tax on carbon dioxide emissions would be more fair than a cap-and-trade system.

Mr. Williamson description of the benefits of a carbon tax over cap-and-trade is concise and accurate:

A tax is “the easiest method, the fastest and the most equitable,” Williamson said, because cap and trade systems tend to be more costly for companies to manage and create regional imbalances that would likely lead to federal lawsuits. “I’ve made the joke before that Wall Street would likely lose its interest in the environment if there wasn’t money to be made from a trading opportunity.” Dynegy Listens to Dissent, March 29, 2007.

Lewis Hay III, Chief Executive of FPL Group: According to a news article announcing that FPL would be promoting a ”carbon fee” that would be tacked on to fossil fuel charges based on the amount of carbon dioxide released from burning them, Hay “believes such a fee, set at a reasonable level and gradually increased, would create market pressures encouraging emission cutbacks not just on utilities but across the economy — but it should be done in a way that is friendlier to industries, businesses and consumers than the ‘cap and trade’ scheme dominating discussions in Congress.” Hay stated that “cap and trade” would result in a “giant food fight over these [carbon] allowances,” invite fraud, such as that which has marred similar programs in Europe, and result in volatile carbon pricing. According to Hay, ”We think the big winners in a trading scheme will all be the investment bankers.” FPL Suggests Carbon Fee to Control Gas Emissions, MiamiHerald.com, March 31, 2007.

Paul Anderson, former Chairman and CEO, Duke Energy

I believe U.S. public policy on global climate change should encourage a transition to a ower-carbon-intensive economy through a broad-based, mandatory approach. And, I believe the best approach is a carbon tax … A well-crafted carbon tax would do three things: First, it would provide incentives for conservation for everyone. Second, it would promote higher utilization of today’s power plants that are low emitters of carbon and encourage low-carbon fuel choices for the future. And third, it would encourage the development of new technologies. The greatest attraction of a carbon tax is that it allows us to share the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the economy – minimizing the disruption in any one area.

(Address, Charlotte Business Journal, 10th Annual Power Breakfast, April 7, 2005)

Mr. Anderson was Chairman and CEO of Duke Energy at the time of his address. In an earlier interview, Mr. Anderson called a carbon tax a “no-regrets approach”:

Probably if you look at the position of industry in the past, it’s been very opposed to something like a carbon tax, but then I think in the past the reality that something was going to have to be done was not quite so evident. The nice thing about a carbon tax is if you accept that there still is a debate as to whether or not man-made CO2 is contributing dramatically to global warming, even if you don’t believe that, and there’s still some people out there that don’t, a carbon tax is a no-regrets approach to it; you haven’t shut down an industry, you haven’t penalised a fuel unduly, you’ve simply sent economic signals out there that, at the end of the day, the worst thing that happens, you have a little conservation.

(Interview, Sunday Sunrise (Austrailia), March 13, 2005)

T. Boone Pickens, oil and gas industry leader and philanthropist, “proposes that we increase gasoline taxes enough to raise the price of gasoline to $5 a gallon and use the revenues to cut the payroll taxes paid by employees and employers.” (Quote from an op-ed by Robert Walker, Global Warming Response – Markets or Taxes? in the San Francisco Chronicle, March 23, 2007)

Glenn Cannon, former General Manager, Waverly Light and Power, and Past Chair of the American Public Power Association: “To me, a carbon tax make the most sense in any strategy where we want to achieve meaningful reductions in all sectors of the economy.” (Email message to Carbon Tax Center, March 12, 2007)

Former American Petroleum Institute Chief Economist Michael Canes combined support for taxing carbon and criticism of carbon cap-and trade in a July 24, 2007 interview with E&E TV. From the transcript:

What’s wrong with cap and trade is that it’s very wasteful. It’s going to result in a lot of constraints on the economy. It’s going to result in volatility of energy prices that is unnecessary. It is going to create a source of wealth for people to lobby for and for the political sector to distribute. And that’s going to result in socially wasteful activity to try to redistribute wealth among parties, including not just within the United States but from abroad as well. And lastly, it’s going to have to have a monitoring system. Cap and trade requires policing, and not just in the United States, but internationally, because it will become an international system very quickly. So, in my opinion, it is going to be wasteful. Many, many billions of dollars will go into the construct of this system and it’s not necessary. There are better alternatives on the table.

Now, why is [cap and trade] politically popular even though it appears to be a more efficient system than other systems? The reason is because it does create a source of wealth. And that means that the business sector sees possibilities of obtaining part of that wealth. And so they view this favorably. The political sector sees ways to distribute that wealth and so it has attractiveness to the political sector. It will result in organized exchanges to exchange these allowances to emit. And those who would set up such exchanges see this as favorable. And ultimately the environmental community finds it favorable because a cap is a cap, and you have a quantitative limit on how much can be emitted. This is a mistake on their part. And the reason for that is the annual rate is not what counts. It is the total stock of greenhouse gases that are in the atmosphere that matters. And whether the rate is a little higher or a little lower really doesn’t matter in any given year. But the environmental community likes the certainty and that’s why they favor it.

I can accept that stronger measures might be necessary and if so, then in my view a carbon tax would be the way to go. A tax on carbon is much neater. The revenues from the carbon tax are kept inside the United States. You set it at a level that tries to approximate the costs that carbon is imposing on the world, you might say. It efficiently gets people to economize on carbon. If revenues can be redistributed, say through other kinds of tax reduction, you can actually improve the efficiency of the tax system. The people at Resources for the Future estimate somewhere between $15 and $25 billion annually in gains from a $7 to $15 carbon tax per ton. So you can improve the economy, it’s a more efficient system. You don’t have this creation of wealth that people begin to try to lobby for and the people try to distribute. You don’t have to deal with international offsets which requires monitoring worldwide of who is producing what in the way of offsets. Are they real? Should they count or should they not? A very expensive way to go. You can avoid all that with a carbon tax and that is the way I think we should go if we’re going to take more serious action than voluntary behavior.

I have not seen [a specific legislative proposal] that quite fits these parameters. I know that Congressman Dingell has proposed a tax, at least conceptually, on carbon. I think his purpose is to see whether or not such a tax could fly. But it’s how you pose the alternatives. If you say let’s have a tax or let’s not have a tax, many people in the public will oppose the tax, no question. If you say let’s have a tax that has redistribution, via reduction of other taxes at least equal so that its revenue neutral or even possibly a small tax decrease, a kind of a sweetener, to get people to kind of agree to this, then I think this could fly politically.

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