(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Last Thursday, state Senate President Darrell Steinberg proposed a carbon tax on gas and other fuels. The tax would start at 15 cents per gallon and eventually reach 24 cents in 2020, raising an estimated $3.6 billion in the first year. Some environmental groups have taken issue with the proposal because it would pre-empt part of the state’s current cap-and-trade program, which limits how much companies can pump out greenhouse gases. We discuss the tax and its implications for cap-and-trade.

Guests:
Craig Miller, science editor for KQED
Severin Borenstein, professor of business administration and public policy at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and co-director of the Energy Institute at Haas
Cara Horowitz, executive director of UCLA School of Law's Emmett Center on Climate Change
Darrell Steinberg, president pro tem of the California State Senate

  • Chemist150

    Many will not believe this. I don’t work or get paid by any oil company but the carbon tax really is not needed and methane is
    our future and this is why:

    The process of serpentinization occurs when the most abundant
    minerals on Earth (silicates) convert water and CO2 into methane and
    longer chain organics. Now, looking at the list of ingredients that the
    companies use for fracking. They have developed this process to a point
    that they consider it IP and refuse to release key details because they
    don’t want competitors and the public to know. But, key compounds
    stick out. They’re injecting the ingredients to make more methane from
    these minerals (water and CO2) among other things like Benzene and other
    organic solvents.

    For a chemist, the “ah ha” moment comes when you see that they add
    benzylammonium salts. The oil companies claim it’s antimicrobial and
    yes, it does do that (barbicide) but a chemist immediate recognizes
    benzylammonium salts as a phase transfer reagent. It can move between
    the organic and aqueous layers and carry polar component between the
    layers. Benzylammonium salts are also known to concentrate CO2 in
    solution, otherwise you’re limited on the concentration the partial
    pressure brings in the aqueous layer and CO2 would be nonexistent in the
    organic later which would facility compounds such as methane.

    So, to get the hydrogen stripped from water to reduce CO2 to methane more efficiently, you’d need a biphasic solution since you’re using such polar materials to produce a non polar organic molecule.

    The fracking companies (the good ones) are doing chemistry on a
    global scale and only a few companies have the resources to test out
    global chemistry. Now think about carbon tax and credits. If the oil company is increasing yields and drawing out a wells life more than a decade by doing
    chemistry on a global scale, they’re going to benefits from having tax
    breaks by injecting CO2 into the ground but they would do it anyway because it increases their yields.

    They would double their profits by getting a tax break from increasing
    yields and profits while the people and other industries producing CO2
    pay the taxes. The oil company gets the tax credit by dumping the tax
    liability directly on the people.

    As long as the CO2 they use to inject is reclaimed CO2 instead of being liberated from mineral sources, it can recycle CO2. With that, it does concern me how
    much acid they may be injecting which could be liberating a fair amount
    of CO2 from the mineral which could be converted into methane.
    The injection of the acid may be the one that thwarts any work you do. Let’s say you reduce CO2 emissions and it continues to rise? It could be coming from the liberated CO2 in the minerals from an IP protected process.

    The goals can be reached but it’ll take more than an uneducated politician.

    • Guest

      No, they call it IP because they’re concealing criminal activity. They are in fact pumping industrial waste into the ground to get rid of it. Their goal is to make safe potable water a scarce resource so that they can corner that market in drinkable water.

      • Chemist150

        Some could be doing that but the ingredients list does point to global scale chemistry to an a person educated in chemistry.

        I’ve ran the idea past some of the best pedigrees (Harvard, MIT) in business and when I listed the ingredients, they immediately started saying what I was going to point out.

        Education helps.

        • Guest

          The USA has a long history of companies getting rid of waste in creative ways. For instance, the fluoride in toothpaste was originally industrial waste. Probably still is. Industry doesn’t care about harming people.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/fluoride_b_2479833.html

          • Bert Macklin

            If you want to be taken seriously don’t cite the huffingtonpost as your resource

          • Guest

            You’ll notice that Huffpo is quoting Harvard

          • Chemist150

            I have an off grid solar system powering some of my household. Last week I purchased an upright wind turbine. It’s in the mail as of today.

            What have you done beside complain and ask everyone else to pay your way?

            What have you done beside complain and ask everyone else topay your way?

          • Chemist150

            What’s wrong with Republicans? I’ve never voted for a republican for president.

          • Guest

            Whenever people say that an argument can be disqualified because it comes from publication X or Y, when the article itself is referring to other sources, I recognize this as fallacious thinking.

            Whether an argument is presented on Huffpo or Democracy Now or Infowars or CNN, that does not make the argument false.

          • Chemist150

            Those that I ran the idea past was because I have more faith in their expertise than my own and I value my own expertise more than a politician, oil producer or random constituent.

          • Chemist150

            Would it help you to know that they’re democrats that drive hybrids? Because they are and they’re just as disgusted as you to what money buys from politicians in this country.

          • Chemist150

            Never read the site. I ask you the same I ask frank…

            I have an off grid solar system powering some of my household. Last week I purchased an upright wind turbine. It’s in the mail as of today.

            What have you done beside complain and ask everyone else to pay your way?

          • Chemist150

            I never denied that.

  • Guest

    We could solve our energy problems if all fitness centers like 24 Hour Fitness were required to install treadmills that produce electricity, feeding it back into the grid, and then require unhealthy people to go to gyms and use them. Alternatively we could make liposuction mandatory for all overweight people and burn the resulting grease in power plants or even turn it into biodiesel. If you calculate the extra energy that is required to move fat people around in cars or buses, you will find it is substantial.

    • Bill_Woods

      Someone in good condition could crank out about 100 W on a stationary bicycle. At that rate, 30 million people working 8-hour shifts could produce an average of 1 GW. California’s base load is 20 GW; its peak load is 40 GW.

      • Guest

        Then let’s focus on fat people. I live in an area where fat people buy bigger cars, SUVs in fact. They’re all over the place moving fat families to and from the taquerias.

    • Chemist150

      I built a generator and set it up with a bike to help power my off grid system.
      There are issues with the incentives for alternate home power.

      I got the alternator from a mid 80’s cheverolet since it has a 12V regulator and installed a permanent magnet that fits it from WindBlue Power. Works well.

      • Guest

        You should do a blog post or Youtube video about it. Otherwise it will be like the sound of one hand clapping.

        • Chemist150

          Like your comment was helpful.

          • Guest

            I’m trying to help you build the confidence to tell people about your great achievements.

          • Chemist150

            There are plenty of u-tubes of it. That’s where I got the ideas and sources. The belt for the hub was the biggest issue.

          • Guest

            Neat. I just watched a few of the vids.

  • Bob Fry

    It is high time that we wean ourselves from dependence on a finite, dirty and — ultimately — costly source of energy…but an additional gasoline tax to be used for a variety of purposes isn’t the way to go. Instead, this can be achieved by using the power of the free market to re-allocate resources where they are required. A steadily increasing carbon fee at the mine or wellhead, with revenue returned undiminished to households, is politically achievable, and will re-energize the entrepreneurial spirit that made the U.S. the world’s lone superpower.

    • Guest

      There is no free market in America. We have one big cartel of corporations each of which has directors sitting on multiple companies’ boards. Only small businesses, especially privately owned ones that don’t take money from banksters, are independent enough to bring about change. If government is going to do anything, it should be to support decentralized power generation and to support alternative modes of transport like bicycles.

  • Bert Macklin

    People respond to incentives. Cap and trade along with the proposed carbon tax will do the most to negatively implact Californian’s use of fossil fuels.

  • jurgispilis

    Why not give a tax credit to parents who forgo bringing into the world a high carbon footprint human being? Isn’t that the crux of the matter?

  • Ben Rawner

    The goal is to reduce carbon emissions not to collect revenue. TAxing at the pump is just raising revenue, how is that going to reduce carbon?

  • Bill_Woods

    The demand curve for gas is whatever it is. If you cut consumption X tons by cap&trade, the price will go up Y cents/gallon. If you raise the price Y ¢/gal by a tax, demand will fall by the same X tons. But the latter way gives people a much clearer idea of what the price will be going forward.

    • Sanfordia113

      15 cents is less than 5%, so what kind of effect will it have? nothing.

  • GW

    i feel bad for all of you who are wringing your hands about climate change and energy issues while KQEd lies by ommision about the military veterans of the UFO DISCLOSURE PROJECT, asking for open hearing and DECLASSIFICATION of the energy source that completely replaces fossil fuels. Shame on NPR, KQED and the “scientists” and politicians who have no idea about the first 500 ED SNOWDENS. We could actually solve things, mostly when we have good options, not just window dressing..

  • Barb F

    Taking strong and effective action to limit our (US, California’s) carbon emissions, we would get some moral authority to talk to developing nations (with much lower per capita emissions) about reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and we would demonstrate ways to reduce them .

  • MattCA12

    Yet another attempt by the Dems in Sacramento to grab more money. There is absolutely no evidence to support the notion that higher gas prices result in lower emissions, particularly at the level that this proposed law seeks to achieve. Unless Steinberg, et. al. agree to take all of this new money and use it to pay people to stay at home (i.e. not drive), it won’t work.

    • Sanfordia113

      correct. The law should raise gas tax by $1/gallon, and simultaneously cut income taxes by 2% across the board.

  • Harristark

    seriously? modifying the cap and trade set up in CA could be dramatic- the cap has been set to include the emission of the fuels- using a tax would make no sense, the oil company who produce the gaz , should be responsible to pay for the emissions resulting by the burning of these fuels.

  • The tax would start at 15 cents per gallon and eventually reach 24 cents
    in 2020, raising an estimated $3.6 billion in the first year.

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