Will Greenery Promote Growth, and Save the World (and Money)?

Will Greenery Promote Growth, and Save the World (and Money)?

Lewis Letter in the Wall Street Journal
April 12, 2008

In Europe, consumers pay up to $9 a gallon for gasoline, in part because European Union governments tax gasoline at rates of $2 to $3 a gallon and more. What most people don't realize is that gasoline taxes are implicit carbon taxes. Taxing gasoline at $1 a gallon is roughly equivalent to taxing the carbon dioxide emissions from gasoline at $100 per ton. So, European motorists are paying carbon dioxide penalties of $300 or more per ton. That's about six times higher than the maximum estimated carbon permit price under the Warner-Lieberman cap-and-trade proposal.

Yet where in Europe is the miracle fuel to replace petroleum? Where are all the zero-emission vehicles? Europe is not one mile closer than we are to achieving a "beyond petroleum" transport system. In fact, from 1990 to 2004, EU transport sector carbon dioxide emissions increased by almost 26%.

Mr. Krupp and other cap-and-trade advocates ignore the main lesson of the failed Synfuels program of the 1970s, memorably expressed by MIT's Thomas Lee, Ben Ball Jr. and Richard Tabors: "If a technology is commercially viable, then government support is not needed, and if a technology is not commercially viable, no amount of government support will make it so.