In the News

To the Editor:

Re “A Bad Tradeoff for the Planet,” by Lee Wasserman and David Kaiser (Op-Ed, July 26):

One of the best ways to save the planet from climate change is to impose a tax on carbon of at least $40 a ton. That would establish an immediate monetary incentive for Americans to reduce the use of fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions, by driving less, car-pooling or using transit, buying smaller cars, upgrading to more efficient equipment, or weatherproofing our homes and businesses to save on heating and cooling.

If the government rebates all of the revenue collected from the tax back to consumers and businesses, we could offset the hardship from increases in energy prices.

Litigation against oil companies has no such effect. Even if the plaintiffs win their cases, which so far they are losing, there would be no resulting change in the human behaviors that emit carbon dioxide, methane, black carbon or hydrofluorocarbons.

Beating up on oil companies is cheap applause. But don’t fool yourself that the suppliers of fuels are the polluters. We are the polluters, you and I. And we could all use a nudge, like a carbon tax, to change our behavior.

The planet would love its current occupants to find agreement on stopping climate change instead of arguing about it. Getting the oil companies to acquiesce to a carbon tax might help the tax to be enacted into law, and giving up a few long-shot lawsuits to get the policy result we really need would be a remarkably sane step forward. We should cut that deal today.

Scott Peters
San Diego
The writer, a California Democrat, is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.