John Bryson, President Obama’s nominee to head the Commerce Department, told a University of California Berkeley audience in 2010 that a cap and trade system was a good way to hide a carbon tax from the public.
Bryson, formerly the CEO of Edison International, said that a carbon tax was the new “third rail” of politics because politicians wouldn’t want to tax energy directly.
“I think it’s still unlikely there’ll be a carbon tax bill because I think in the end a very high percentage of the members of Congress think it’s kind of the third rail to support a tax, even if it’s a carbon tax,” Bryson said.
“Greenhouse gas legislation, either with a tax or with cap and trade – which is a more complicated way of getting at it but it has the advantage of politically sort of hiding the fact that you have a tax – but that’s what you’re trying to do,” he added.
Bryson said that carbon taxes – whether open or hidden in a cap and trade regime – were still not the best way to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gasses. The best way, he said, was a robust system of regulations that penalized energy producers for producing more energy than the government deemed necessary.
“In the great debate between economists and others about whether we ought to be proceeding primarily with market signals or regulatory steps, I believe we ought to do both,” He said. “But the regulatory steps act right now [with] immediate requirements.”…
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