A Call for a Carbon Tax From Elon Musk...and Many Others

By · November 15, 2012

Traffic in Stockholm

Traffic in Stockholm. Europe has embraced the concept of taxing carbon. EVs haven't taken off there yet, but it's likely they will in the longer term. (Flickr/Ugglan)

Congress should seriously consider a carbon tax, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told me at the New York party last week announcing his company’s Motor Trend “Car of the Year” win. “We tax cigarettes and alcohol, so it seems like common sense, really.”

My question had actually been about EV subsidies. In his 2012 budget proposal, President Obama floated, though has not exactly fought for, increasing the current $7,500 federal income tax credit for battery vehicles to a $10,000, and reformulating it as a direct rebate so that consumers could claim it when they buy their car. Musk said he was unaware that proposal was even on the table. He supports it, but he still favors a carbon tax, with better electric car incentives as “the next best thing.”

The carbon tax may actually have more political support than the $10,000 EV rebate idea, because even some electric car advocates are hesitant to open up debate about EV incentives when an effective $7,500 credit is already in place. As one told me, "Why take the risk of all the public scrutiny?"

A Simple Idea...With Big Effects

The idea is simple enough. As the Wall Street Journal describes it, “Put a price tag on the harmful emissions from fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, and use the revenues to fund clean-energy development, pay down the deficit or slash taxes.” And indirectly, of course, spur electric car development by making them a more cost-effective transportation solution.

Musk is not alone in seeing a carbon tax—or at least a coherent national energy policy—as the best solution to reducing our foreign oil addiction and addressing global warming. Bill Ford, executive chairman of the company that bears his name, has long supported higher taxes on gasoline, and he told me that an energy policy could give Ford “some clarity about where the U.S. is going as a country.” Without it, he said, the outlook for green cars resembles “throwing darts.”

Growing Support

It will be fascinating to see if a carbon tax finally gets traction in Congress. Depending on how it’s applied, it could be a major boon for electric car sales by stabilizing higher gasoline prices. And, indeed, as Musk says, the value could be greater than Obama’s proposed ramping up of EV incentives. President Obama dodged an opportunity to commit to a carbon tax at his press conference Wednesday, but such polar opposites as the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the liberal Brookings are giving it serious consideration.

All sorts of policy makers support a carbon tax. “Putting a price on carbon is fundamental,” wrote Oxford professor Dieter Helm in a New York Times op-ed this week. “If consumers and businesses do not bear the cost of their carbon pollution, they won’t do much about it.”

And MIT has also weighed in with a report that calls a carbon tax a “win-win” for America. The authors, Sebastian Rausch and John Reilly, say that revenue from a carbon tax could offset the effects of the expiring Bush-era tax cuts. “In addition to economic benefits, a carbon tax reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to 14 percent below 2006 levels by 2020, and 20 percent below by 2050,” the report says.

Such a tax, they say, could also reduce oil imports 10 million barrels a day by 2050. “The carbon tax would shift the market toward renewable and other low-carbon options, and make the purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles more economically desirable.”

The Politics of Carbon

But is a carbon tax politically possible? Even with a big mandate for Obama and his EV-favoring policies in the election, Republicans still control the House of Representatives. Co-author Reilly told me that the climate is now better than ever.

“For a long time we’ve seen that a carbon tax hasn’t been politically possible,” he said. “But perhaps now we have a perfect storm of factors lining up. First, we have a situation with the deficit where Congress is desperately looking for ways to enhance tax revenue without raising personal income tax rates.

Among all the tough choices that need to be made in that context, a carbon tax might stand out as a more rational solution. There has also been support from the right, with conservative economists like Greg Mankiw and Arthur Laffer supporting the idea.”

“The time seems ripe for this discussion,” said Harvard economist Makiw, who advised Mitt Romney during the Presidential campaign. “A carbon tax kills two birds with one stone.” Support from Laffer, author of the famous supply-side “Laffer Curve,” could be a good persuader for Tea Party sympathizers. Reilly offers this argument for fiscal skeptics.

"Right now, it may seem like you’re not paying for programs such as fuel-efficiency standards or subsidy programs," Reilly said. "But what you’re not paying for out of your front pocket, you’re paying for out of your back pocket through your tax dollars and—in the case of fuel standards—when you go to buy a car. A carbon tax would be coming out of your front pocket, which is why it has been such a politically toxic idea, because it has a visible impact. But what we’ve studied is how the money raised from a carbon tax could be used to lower other taxes. So it balances out. You’re paying taxes on things that aren’t good—like emissions—and not as much for things that are good—like income."

A carbon tax is, in fact, the market-based approach that many Republicans say they want. “That’s what this is,” Reilly said. “It would give businesses, and specifically utilities and energy companies, the certainty and flexibility to choose which future investments would save the most energy and money. We would also no longer need the piecemeal regulations that are both inefficient and ineffective.”

Raising Doubts

So a carbon tax is a timely idea, but some raise cautions. Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute call themselves environmentalists, but have long clashed with the actual movement. They say a carbon tax can “play a useful role,” but disagree that it’s a panacea.

The pair say that Europe effectively has one through its cap-and-trade system, but there’s still an increase in the use of coal there. Worldwide, coal has gone from 25 to 30 percent of total energy, and greenhouse gas emissions are rising at three parts per million annually (an increase from the two ppm in the 1990s).

Europe is switching to coal because it’s much cheaper than natural gas there. In the U.S., cheap natural gas means the trend is exactly reversed—coal is doomed here, and American climate emissions are falling rapidly. A carbon tax definitely is not a one-stop panacea, but it clearly is win-win at this unique juncture in our history.


· · 5 years ago

"Co-author Reilly told me that the climate is now better than ever." - Note: That's political climate, not actual global climate. :)

Also, I think the term to use here is "feebate."

To put things into perspective, Every US$1/ton of CO2 in carbon tax adds (very roughly) 1 cent to the cost of gasoline, per US gallon. I don't see this angle contributing much to EV's financial benefits by itself since you'd need fairly high costs for buying electric to "pay off" fast enough for people to take note. (Not that I agree with such a simple, narrow and shortsighted financial argument though!)

Roughly US$20/ton CO2 seems to be a common average value for other proposed schemes. Sounds like a good place to start IMHO.

· Lad (not verified) · 5 years ago

Oil companies, coal companies and other carbon polluters pay for our political elections and buy our Washington politicians with indirect bribes and favors through their Washington Lobbying Firms; Do you really think Carbon Credits has a chance to pass? Send me a picture when Santa arrives on your roof top in a sled pulled by tiny Reindeer?

· Spec (not verified) · 5 years ago

"some electric car advocates are hesitant to open up debate about EV incentives when an effective $7,500 credit is already in place. As one told me, "Why take the risk of all the public scrutiny?""

That is very wise. Trying to make it bigger is a bad idea. A carbon tax would be MUCH better. But that is so politically difficult.

· grumpy (not verified) · 5 years ago

Given the choice of a larger rebate or making the rebate directly applicable to the purchase price of an EV, I would prefer the latter. At the current price of a Volt, there is a somewhat limited segment of the population that can afford the full monthly payment between the purchase date and the tax return. Then you are still left with the high monthly payment for the remainder of the loan. The direct rebate makes an EV very competitive with an ICE, in terms of the monthly payment,

· · 5 years ago

Carbon dividend has also been suggested.
Same principle but it all goes back to the citizens.
That is, levy a fee on all carbon, but refund full cost to all Americans 4x a year.
Yes Exxon and Coal will pass on the cost to the consumer, but we will have more money to make a choice:
a) use the extra money to pay for dirty now correctly priced expensive gas especially in the short term until they get rid of their ICE.

b) use the extra money to pay for cleaner cheaper green electrons/lease of EV/ EREV.

In addition it would spur a lot of economic development of biofuels, alternative fuels, etc that would be in competition to fill that void as people stop buying dirty expensive fuels.

I am greedy of course and think they should make it $10,000 of the price of the car not federal tax credit so all can enjoy this as well as carbon tax or carbon dividend.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Tmac - I also like the idea of returning the vast majority (say 75%) of carbon taxes raised directly to citizens. It improves the optics of the carbon tax, but more importantly it disproportionately benefits those who reduce their carbon footprint over those who increase it.

That being said, I hope a carbon tax is actually a GHG tax, and not limited only to carbon emissions.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

The first thing to do is set it in place even as low as 2.65 $/ton. When it is generalized and common you can then start adjusting the price level.

· · 5 years ago

Carbon Tax is a horrible idea! Yes let's filter huge amounts of more money through uncle sam who will then benefit the goverment give a little to the enviroment so they can say they did and pick winners and losers. It is all about power.
Sorry but no body has proven to me the a colorless orderless gas that plants feed on and is a mere tid bit of the atmosphere actually captures heat and causes warming. Also no one has proven to me we are actually warming. Contrary to Gore it is NOT a proven fact. Where is the direct link?
I personally have a bigger problem with all the concrete we put down and the removing of trees. I can back that. I believe there should be a tree planted for every yard of concrete or some factor thereof.

· · 5 years ago

Lad, the oil companies and coal companies have to compete with China, Banks, Hollywood, Unions on and on. If you are not giving then you get left behind. You make it sound like they are the only ones giving money to our political system. The money just needs to stop period. But our Federal Judges said corporations are people too and here we have it.

· Schmartguy (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Red Leaf,
"Sorry but no body has proven to me". John Tyndall, in 1859 discovered that water vapour and CO2 trap heat. In 1896 Svante Arrhenius claimed that burning fossil fuels could result in global warming. Where have you been?

· · 5 years ago

@Red Leaf

Not sure about Musk's political views but man those are FIGHTING Words to me. How many tons of carbon do I exhale in a year and how much tax will I have to pay to be allowed to keep breathing.

Anyone look up in the sky in the past several years? Years ago you used to see only water wapor, but these days you often see "Aerosols" of Aluminum and Barilium Oxide. Not to mention all that "man made" radiation still coming from Fukushima Daiichi now circulating in the Jet Stream. Of course no one is worried about any of the above mentioned dangerous poisons but are worried about a "Building Block of Life", Carbon Dioxide, which is not CARBON. We never say Hydrogen and Water are exactly the same thing, nor Wood and Ash. Discussions that take place are usually Looney, and always Silly.

Glad Red Leaf at least has seen through some of this. I like Model S, but advocation of another Big Tax to enrich Maurice Strong, Al Gore, Goldman Sachs (they offer the carbon credit exchanges) I'm very much against. I would HOPE Musk has just stumbled on to this through ignorance and is not becoming part of the "White Shoe Boys" club.

· · 5 years ago

Bill Howland, thanks yes I agree, I have more concern over water pollution then air right now. I am been on this planet a little while and I can remember when Nashville in the 70's would be black with the hase in the air and acid rain on the cars. Thanks to all the emission controls the sky is bluer and only gray water vapor haze during the summer heat instead of a dark charcoal gray look. Big difference is removing the carbon monoxide but I just have not bought into the Carbon Dioxide theory of global warming.
I may be crazy on this one but I actually believe Gore got it backwards. I think when the earth warms it creates more carbon dioxide in the ocean instead of carbon dioxide creating global warming. He makes a correlation but he never seems to address the fact that it may be the other way around.
Schmartguy thanks i will review those findings. But yes I would think water or water vapor can hold heat. I do not need some one to discover that for me. I have a pool in my back yard.

· RDownunder (not verified) · 5 years ago

Legislating a carbon tax (transitioning to a market-based Emissions Trading System) in Australia was a huge political battle, but compensation to the low and middle-income got it over the line in July this year. While compensation may seem counter-intuitive (take and then give back), a price on greenhouse emissions provides an incentive to reduce emissions, not just directly in energy/pollution savings and investments in homes, farms and industries but also in the products and services consumers choose e.g. a packet of cereal from a low-polluting company becomes cheaper. A carbon tax/ETS is much more efficient than rebates on solar panels, electric cars etc. and avoids the problem of 'giving' tax-payer money to the well-off. All those schemes are being phased out - with their bureaucracy. And despite all the doomsday predictions about hikes in consumer energy prices and companies, industries and towns closing down, there has been minimal impact after 5 months. The income from the carbon tax not only goes to the compensation package, but also into investments in renewables and tax cuts. BTW, getting technical with the term 'carbon' is tiresome - it's simply a convenient term and CO2 & CH4 are obviously carbon. And a simple look at the 100 year records of any climate factor (global air temp., sea temp., sea level etc.) clearly demonstrates the impact of industrialisation, population growth and deforestation.

· · 5 years ago

@ Red Leaf

Yeah this is so silly if you even to begin to investigate the looney Idea they are claiming.

The most important greenhousegas BYFAR is WATER. Carbon Dioxide does cause global warming, fact. But its a trivial amount (in 3rd or 4th place) and the effect is logarithmic at best (I.e. 100 times more CO2 causes a few times more warming), Methane is at least 10 times in importance, and all the barilium oxide and aluminum poisonous spraying that is being done is have the supposedly unintentional effect of releasing more Methane! Besides poisoning the forest ground. Some people are getting rightly alarmed by Bee Confusion, and the lack of insects in general. Something very very wrong is going on here and its not being due to "dangerous Carbon". Then there's radiation from nuclear gone wrong that if its small is hushed up. That thing in 1959 in california was supposedly bigger than 3 mile island, but they hushed it up for over 50 years. And you'll be hearing about Fukushima from years to come, if not overtly, then to the number of Japanese teenagers dying from heart attacks.
RE: Gore, he didn't unknowingly get it backwards.. Its called being a polititian.
CO2 concentration lags temperature change historically by 300-800 years, it never Leads.

Why knowingly? He wouldn't have built a $9 mil palace on water's edge in SF, CA. if "We are all going to flooded by Melting Iceburgs" by next Tuesday.

· · 5 years ago


We don't have a problem ostensibly with "deforrestation". Our forests are growing at Record Rates, being FED by INCREASING Carbon Dioxide. As far as "tiresome" attacks on abreviations go, how 'bout banning the use of the word CO2 and pollutant in the same sentence?

The most delicate plants flourish under 10 times the current amount of CO2. Calling it a pollutant is idotic and silly, if it weren't so serious. Anyone can see that anything that causes growth is good.

Since CO2 has 2 parts oxygen. I'm going to start calling OXYGEN a greenhouse gas, and a pollutant. It is too:. Its kills Gemini Astronauts and speeding rusting.

· · 5 years ago

@Bill Howland:

Most of your points are discussed here. Most of what you've said (and Red Leaf as well) appears to be misguided. The two of you would do well to spend an hour or so carefully reading the contents of that link.

There is a limit to the fraction of the atmosphere that can be water vapor, it's a function of temperature. There is no limit to the faction of atmosphere that can be carbon dioxide. Moreover, increasing CO2 causes warming, which in turn allows a higher concentrations of water vapor. It's this kind of positive feedback loop that we as a species have been unknowingly starting up. By some counts we are already past the point of no return so it's not really a question of IF we're screwed, but a question of how badly.

· · 5 years ago

Not to get lost in the weeds here, but those discussed points are somewhat silly.

The number of serious hurricanes has decreased.. The absolute number of small storms has gone up due to better reporting.

Like:" Breathing just puts the co2 back into the air that was there in the first place. " If thats so why do they want to tax cows. Exhaled air has a much greater percentage of CO2 in it than in the atmosphere in general.

I'm really not trying to change any minds here. I'm suporting people who take my point of view with added ammunition.

Let me ask you this? How come this "imagined" source of pollution is all you guys care about? There's far more pressing health factors.

Betwetting about carbon dioxide pails in comparison to tumors developing in northern Japan. Young women's teeth and hair falling out. Teenagers dying of heart attacks.

What about the gross increase in Autism in the US?

And why do you guys always have as a solution TAXING ME MORE? Why don't you contribute more yourself instead of wanting to steal more of my money?

A British Court found Nationwide that the film "An Inconvenient Truth" was full of exaggerations and lies, and found for the plaintiff, and ordered that IF this movie is to be shown to school children the exaggerations and lies have to be discounted, and explained to them.

Just because some random " Dr. " said some things proves nothing to me. I read 25 years ago in Scientific American that one "PhD physicist has proven electric cars can't exist because they would need 1000 ampere filling ports and there is not enough copper around to make the connections for millions of autos." What an idiot.

Until recently, I've read blogs who it turns out were mostly young self-important people who said it was physically impossible to get anything more than background radiation from a nuclear plant. They'd go on and on and on about what an IDIOT I was to think there could possibly be the slightest danger from any Nuclear Generating Station. That was until three General Electric BWR's melted down, then (worse) melted through the ground in march 2011. All the big experts are suddenly silent.

And you never hear from anyone the slightest about the grave mortality risks from anything except the bedwetting AGW crowd.

Catholics will recall Sir Thomas Acquinas' description of Greenland as being actually green. And whenever there is indication of much warmer weather in the middle ages than we are currently experiencing, it coincides with Great Wealth. All the big Cathedrals were built during this time, as well as vineyards in London.

This is NOT my basic point. But, more heat is good. There are more living things at the equator than at the poles. Why are the vast majority of Canadians near their southern border when the country as a whole is larger than the USA?

· Jesse Gurr (not verified) · 5 years ago

I like junkscience.com because it seems to be fairly balanced and open minded with concepts regarding climate change/global warming and what not.

On to CO2, I always thought that it was heavier than air, so how can it be way up in the atmosphere acting like a blanket to warm us? Thought that was Ozone(O2) that did that. could be wrong, never really looked into it. Also, if there is too much CO2 in the air, wouldn't that kill us all since it would displace the air that we breathe. We aren't dead yet so that must mean we're good. :P

· · 5 years ago

@Bill Howlans "Like:" Breathing just puts the co2 back into the air that was there in the first place. " If thats so why do they want to tax cows. Exhaled air has a much greater percentage of CO2 in it than in the atmosphere in general. "

You do realize that the blue text on the right-hand column are links which go to detailed discussions, right? If you did notice you wouldn't have said something so stupid. Please go back and try again, actually reading the content this time. I was serious when I said "spend an hour or so."

"Let me ask you this? How come this "imagined" source of pollution is all you guys care about? There's far more pressing health factors"

It's not. However this type of website is focused on electric/electrified vehicles which the main associated environmental concern is air quality and fossil fuel use. Hence, you will find a disproportionately high concentration of those opinions here. If you want to discuss mercury in the water or autism or the obesity epidemic, you need to find a more appropriate forum. You don't go into a car club meeting and ask why how to bake sheet cakes isn't on the agenda.

· · 5 years ago

@Bill Howland and Red Leaf
I am a staunch conservative as well, however, I would like to offer an alternative view toward the carbon issue.
While there is not enough direct evidence to 100% prove that our species' increased carbon emissions are causing the increased ocean temperatures, there is sufficient evidence to indicate it is possible and i'd even go so far as to say, likely.
Therefore, just as a prudent person looks both ways before crossing a country road even though he knows there's only a 2% chance a car will be coming because of the severe consequences of there being one, I feel it is worthwhile to look into alternatives.
It is very unfortunate that the Liberal leaning side of our country has politicized this issue for their own gains but it is also sad that the industries that rely on have stifled any rational discussion of it within conservative circles.
The evidence I've been seeing for several decades is very disturbing and even if the popular conclusions don't turn out to be true, I'm not sure we can afford the risk of not taking carbon emissions seriously today.
I'm probably just as concerned as you are about the socialist left side using this as another means of squeezing more money out of those who contribute to our society in order to buy more votes from non-workers and pay their bureaucrats to run our lives for us. Nobody ever said life is easy and I definitely don't trust anyone who claims to have an easy answer.

· · 5 years ago

Yes this is PlugInCars.com. I've mentioned 3 times now I just pepper the conversation and I'm not trying to change anyone's mind.

The peppering I do is to show occassional viewers of these blogs that there is *NOT* (to the great chagrin of many people here) uniformity of thought here, and FREE THINKING is to be encouraged. Joseph Stalin hasn't taken over just yet right here. People are still allowed to make their own decisions, at least for a bit longer.

· RDownunder (not verified) · 5 years ago

Bill, I learnt about global warming in university science in 1979 when there was scientific concensus that human-produced greenhouse gases and deforestation were causes global temperatures to rise and that plants grow faster in higher C02 concentrations. But it was obvious then, as i is now, that any additional growth with C02-O2 conversion is trivial compared with the emissions we keep adding to the atmosphere - even if we hadn't cleared all the forests for farming land. And how anyone can reject deforestation over centuries on land that produces food for billions more people on the basis that the forests we have left grow a bit faster demonstrates your desperation to point score without even comprehending the history and the whole ecological system.
With the overwhelming global consensus in the climate scientific community and a growing majority consensus in the broader community I've always stayed out of these sort of blogs because ignorant people try to use simple examples to counter scientifically-established observations and consequences. There will always be scientists with views contrary to the consensus, but questioning and challenging views is what advances science. It's laymen using selective scientific views (or even their own simplistic ignorant views) to throw out the concensus scientific view to sway public opinion is simply irresponsible. Clearly that's their right, but everyone will tire of it and not give them any more air.
I only contributed on this one because Australia managed to implement a carbon tax despite a difficult political situation like in the US. And Bill, why shouldn't you pay for the harm you're doing to the atmosphere and the global climate - including communities on low-lying islands on the other side of the world that will lose their homes, town and even country to (clearly observable) sea level rises? Even if you don't agree with global warming, the majority need to incentivise you to be morally responsible. Most people in modern societies accept taxes as making a contribution to their society (health, education, police, environment, the less-privileged etc.), but it seems like many in the US see them as an attack on their personal rights and the market-based economy. It almost defines self-centred vs. community-minded.

· · 5 years ago

@RDownunder and others.

For one thing, I'm insulted that People, who do not know me, assume I've been polluting. I've put more miles on my bikes over years than most anyone here. In other numerous ways I am frugal with my energy use. I don't bike very far but the miles add up day after day. Specifically I'm in quite good physical shape; incidentally Gross comments Greatly Cheapen this Venue. I and others have objected to uncouth 14 year olds flame-throwing semi-serious discussions, and specficially due to cheapening the venue, If I had anything to say about it I wouldn't tolerate it due to its ultimate impact on advertising revenue, plus at one time people used to care about intangibles..

I truly hope you are not typical of your people in broad-brushing bad motives to people without knowing them. .Your basic point in your last posting is that if 55% of the people vote to kill the other 45%, I should accept the consensus..

We Sir, are a Republic. True, we haven't acted like a Republic in the past 180 years, but the idea is to prevent "Tyranny of the Majority". Republics are not Democracies, in fact Benjamin Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers, said a Democracy is "Two Wolves and one sheep voting for Luncheon". This country was founded on the idea of Individual Sovereignty. At one time, even the educational systems taught it.

You can do whatever you want in Australia, my only plea is you remain to some extent a "Common Law" country. The USA is rapidly becoming almost totally Civil Law, though a few of us are resisting.

As for being Self-Centered, that does not apply to me, as I'm the most Generous person I know.

You will notice none of my "Peanut Gallery" critics wants to take me on about specific facts, for they are not sure they would prevail. A while ago many confidently dismissed me as an idiot, but then their presumptive arrogance was in for a Rude Awakening. Almost everyone on here has called me Retarded at one point in time or another, then I called their bluff. So I have no interest in debating generalities. And so far no one wants to take me on, for fear of shame, or loss of Face. I'm not paid to be here so, while I would like to think highly of everyone, its certainly not mandatory, and it in no way affects the stimulating fact-based exchanges the make EV's in general interesting to discuss, in which this forum is ideal.

I have 2 choices for you which I've made with others.

A). Let's Agree to Disagree.

B). IF you have an open mind ( very few people do by the way, others are employment constrained EG- Envrionmental Reporters).then there's material to cover.

But if there is the slightest reluctance toward B, then please Choose A. Any other choice is unfair to me, and casual readers of PICars..

· · 5 years ago

Okay Bill, I'll bite. I shouldn't, but I will anyway.

Choose ONE point to discuss. Just one. We will discuss that point until you are satisfied. I will, however, make a prediction that one or more of the following will happen:

0) (Because I'm sure this will happen right out of the gate) you will fail to comply with the request for one specific point, but instead choose some wildly overreaching topic like climate change as a whole or some politics-based nonsense.

1) You will introduce new and unrelated points in an attempt to distract me and steer the discussion away from the original point, so you can then claim that you never got an answer.

2) You will dismiss out of hand, for no adequately explainable reason, any reference or citation I provide.

3) You will dismiss out of hand, for no adequately explainable reason, any rebuttal to any references or citations YOU provide.

4) You will throw a tantrum and start calling people names, and/or simply stop posting.

I've been "debating" knuckleheads like you for years and this is the general pattern that eventually arises. Perhaps you can prove me wrong.

Please choose one specific point to discuss and we'll proceed.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

I'm in Bill Ford's camp regarding increasing gas taxes. Simpson-Bowles proposes a 15¢/gal. increase in federal gasoline tax as a deficit reducing measure. A good start, but not enough.

· · 5 years ago

My only request is that we can have a civil and adult discussion on these topics here without resorting to name-calling and slander. I see that the moderators have already removed some of more vile and inflammatory examples since I checked in here last night. Good for that.

· RDownunder (not verified) · 5 years ago

Bill, congratulations on riding a bicycle, but you again seem to be using a minor point to dismiss an entire argument. Are you seriously suggesting you don't produce any greenhouse emissions? You don't live in a house with electric or gas cooking, fridge, heating, fan/cooling, TV, computer etc? You do it again by dismissing your unwillingness to pay tax for the social benefits by saying you're generous. Giving money to friends, strangers or charities is clearly not the same point. We're all happy to agree to disagree, but we all expect a reasoned and balanced discussion.

· · 5 years ago


Youve greatly insulted me twice by calling me Stupid and a Knucklehead. I have not insulted you like this. So what is the point man. I'm already dealing with one 14 year old, who I think should be banned entry here.

If people cannot talk in a civil form of voice, they shouldn't be on here. On this point you've already violated your own rules. I gave only 2 choices. So by default yours is "A"., lets agree to disagree.


Ok, well, I have 2 electric cars, I bike alot, and the rest of my house runs on relatively low carbon dioxide emitting Natural Gas.

To be fair I couldn't care less how much CO2 I'm generating, since I think more CO2 is as good a thing as more OXYGEN is a good thing. They are both building blocks of life, and if anything there is a shortage of both.

The reason I live in an essentially "All Gas house", (I converted everything that was electric to Gas when I moved in) , is to take advantage of the low gas, high electric cost equation. By heat content, Gas here is 30% the cost of Electricity. 2 miles away the marginal cost of electricity (neighboring Utility) is, believe it or not, 1/3 of the cost of mine. If I lived 2 miles east of here I would have an all electric house, since the various apparatus would be 100% efficient (to me), and overall the utility bills would be much lower. Now I didn't go nuts on this.. I did *NOT* put in a gas refrigerator, nor a gas central air conditioner, since electricity is not quite that expensive here yet.

If you are looking for a greenhouse gas emitter, really you are looking at the wrong place, try looking at the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.. They emit the most efficacious greenhouse gas, i.e. water vapor. (CO2 is a distant 3rd or 4th).

· · 5 years ago


The only thing remotely related to my physical body that I converted to Gas was my extra large hot tub. I keep it covered and sealed 99.9% of the time to avoid emission of dangerous Green House Gas. (uh, that's water vapor). (Really I do it to prevent heat loss, as recommended by the manufacturer).

My hot tub dealer stated only about 1 in 500 people actually successfully convert their hot tubs to Gas Heat, and especially this model since although huge, it is a mechanic's nightmare. He said he has NEVER heard of anyone converting this particuarly difficult model except me. So I took it as a bit of a successful challenge. The most difficult job was trying to find the drainage piping (as a Chase), and the foam insulation to forestall freezing and provide an economic installation. It probably is doubtful whether it was "worth it", but I enjoy a challenge and it is 'low maintenance'. I have a very high efficiency 1/4 hp pump (its physically larger and heavier than the three 2 - horsepower jet pumps in the tub itself) drawing 240 watts 15 minutes per day on an interval timer to melt any hoarfrost developing in the 110 feet of 1 1/2" installed plumbing. So, the Pump is using an additional 1.6 kwh / month, and its not a total waste, since the water gets treated by 'froggers' that the water is forced to traverse.

· · 5 years ago

@Benjamin Nead

This talk about natural gas brings up an interesting thought: Is PLUGINCARS also looking at Compressed Natural Gas vehicles like the Honda Civic CNG? It does take a plug-in hose, and the compressor unit in your garage is electric... Just wondered if it is also considered a "PLUG IN" vehicle. I'm interested because at some point in time I may try installing a gas compressor in my garage. Like EV's, I wish there were also more varieties in CNG vehicles. Only the Honda Civic CNG so far as I know, and they no longer even recommend household compression due to their worrying about too much moisture.. It doesn't seem to me to be too much of a big deal to have compressor manufacturers include Dessicant Dryers/Moisture Alarms in their units.

· · 5 years ago

Bill . . . I'm not the one who would be making any sort of policy decisions here on Plug In Car regarding what sort of vehicles to cover. I'm just a regular poster who has contributed a couple of articles over the 2 years that I've been hanging around here. But I'm pretty sure - and I would be in agreement with the site's management - that CNG vehicles would not get any sort of special new promotion push or suddenly be classified as "plug in."

Like hundreds of millions of people in the US, my central heating, hot water and kitchen stove is powered by natural gas. In addition to eventually going with grid-tied PV solar, though, I'd also like to supplement my hot water heating with solar-heated water backup (an emergency plumbing repair earlier this year forced us to replace our old gas hot water heater and we were careful to choose a new one ready to work for a future solar/gas hybrid system.) If I had my druthers, I'd also like to get rid of the gas stove someday and replace it with an induction electric burner countertop unit and - for what little oven cooking we do - a stand-alone convection oven. In this climate, we run the central heating so infrequently that it's almost a non-issue. Home air conditioning (cooling) is a far greater concern - and expense - here in the desert.

Natural gas is a mixed bag. The immediate upside is that it's cheap enough now that it's being favored over coal to produce electricity. The short term good news is cleaner air - and, yes, less carbon dioxide - than we would get by burning coal. I have great concerns, though, that sloppy fracking techniques are allowing large unchecked amounts of methane to leak into the atmosphere and that - even at it's best - the large amounts of water needed and the chemicals pumped being pumped into the ground is a terrible thing.

Hence, I'm not a big proponent of natural gas. It doesn't get us to truly renewable and sustainable clean energy future. If anything, it's a long term distraction to get us to where we should be . . .


Realistically, we'll probably always need it. I'd just like to see as little used as possible.

Also . . . I'm in full agreement with almost all who posted on this thread these past few days that global warming is real, that it is largely human caused and it's something that I hope can be addressed by public policy. While carbon dioxide is something we've had in the atmosphere for billions of years, I do think elevated levels that have been produced by 200+ years of the ongoing industrial revolution. I'd rather not spend a lot of time here debating it other than to say many have attempted to do so intelligently here these past few day and a small minority, unfortunately, have gotten personal and ugly about it.

A panacea for me would be a net zero house: one that uses as little energy as possible to cool before gas and electricity is even factored in. My solar PV array, thus, would not have to be as large and it could mostly be devoted to recharging a small EV.

In the mean time, I already do all sorts of small things that I hope add up positively: shopping with cloth bags I carry into the store (no paper or plastic single-use bags,) compact florescent and - increasingly - LED lights around the house, walking to work instead of driving whenever I can and choosing a plant-based diet.

· · 5 years ago

Option #4 it is, then.

· · 5 years ago

@Benjamin Nead

Yeah ok, that's fair, there's other places that allow other alternative fuel vehicles.

I, too am concerned about issues re: Natural Gas. Housing values in nearby Butler County Pennsylvania have decreased ten fold due to poisoning of formerly potable well water. No one is helping these people. I've gone to meetings around here making sure we keep the practice banned to the extent we can.

And this is after all the industry lies about nothing bad could ever happen (shades of the Nuclear Industry). I would gladly pay more for Natural
Gas to avoid Hydrofracking in any areas remotely located to aquafers.

Since you're going to be installing more Solar related equipment, I'm sure you're also keeping track of the "Solar Dimming" phenomenon.

· · 5 years ago


Actually option #4A: This is where YOU are throwing the tantrum, and name calling. I'm forced to stop talking to you due to the guidelines on PlugIncars.com. Other respected posters here can see this and posted about it.

"If someone is acting like a jerk, back off and don't respond".

Therefore I'm not going to violate the ground rules here.

· · 5 years ago

Distribution Losses vary all over the place. From Quebec to NYC half the power is lost. But the hydropower is still relatively cheaper.

· Objective (not verified) · 5 years ago

So your claiming that 7% to 8% overall US grid average is incorrect, by an unsubstantiated anecdotal claim of a single instance?

You still come up empty in substantive argument for your assertion. How about citing any credible source to either back up or refute anything about grid losses? (Single instance or overall grid average.)

· · 5 years ago

@Benjamin Nead

That wired article link was quite interesting. I just found out my utility (National
Grid) state wide, had a differing mix of energy generation than I would have thought.

Coal, 4%., Petroleum 4% Natural Gas 12%, Nuclear 50%, Hydro 25%, Wind and Solar and Geothermal 5%.

So the winds of change are blowing more your way than mine.

· · 5 years ago

Ev's should benefit from the Delay in Home Refueling for natural gas.

Phil cng units are about $5000, but the new italian maker isn't sure how they want to distribute them in the US.

Eaton and GE supposedly are developing $500 home refueling stations, but doesn't look like they will be available 'till 2014 if then.

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