One of the many issues in the current Presidential campaign involves the question of whether to pursue a tax on carbon emissions. The matter has been viewed by the Clinton campaign with some interest but not commitment, while Donald Trump is opposed to the carbon tax at least on the basis that there is no science that supports the underlying idea of climate change. (The Divide on a Carbon Tax)
Interestingly, Exxon has called for support for a carbon tax and acceptance of scientific evidence of climate change (Fortune and Times-Picayune) even though the Company and allies continue to challenge investigations of Exxon’s historic research and possible failure to disclose evidence of climate change in years past. (Exxon-Mobil Fights Back and Exxon Allies Cry Foul )
Conceivably, proceeds from a carbon tax could help fund services to coal producing areas to ease the transition for these local economies. (The Brookings Institution) There is also the theory that the absence of funding (perhaps through a carbon tax) actually hastens the demise of coal because it lessens the development of carbon sequestration projects which can help to resolve the carbon emissions issue and allow coal use to continue, at least for some foreseeable period. (Bledsoe: Denial Hastens Coal’s Decline)
The likelihood of a carbon tax seems very small regardless of who is elected President. Regardless, there are some aspects of the issue that may merit careful thought in a year where political prediction is proving very difficult.