Four years ago, Sen. Mark Udall — now locked in a tough reelection fight — said it’s “crucial” to price carbon dioxide emissions in order to fight global warming.
Udall’s official Senate website says the Colorado Democrat is still in favor of pricing carbon dioxide.
The question is, how much does Udall think Americans should pay to emit carbon dioxide? More importantly, what does that mean for everyday purchases, like filling up your gas tank or keeping the lights on?
Udall’s office did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s inquiries. But his support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” and his wife’s climate advocacy give an idea of what his carbon price might look like.
“I have not reached that point. I think it’s crucial to price carbon,” Udall told Grist in 2010, when the Senate was deciding whether to reconsider cap and trade. “But I continue to believe strongly that if we want to compete with the Chinese and the Indians and Europe when it comes to clean energy, unless you price carbon, you don’t send the right signals to the marketplace.”
Cap-and-trade legislation was defeated in the Senate in 2009 once people realized it would essentially be a tax on energy use, but Udall has continued to argue global warming is a threat that must be addressed with carbon pricing.
“Global warming is one of the defining challenges of our time, and how we handle the issue will have profound implications for the planet we leave our children,” reads Udall’s senate website. “We can meet this challenge head on… and put a common-sense price on carbon.”
Though Udall’s office did not respond to TheDCNF, he supports the EPA’s plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from already operating power plants — a plan that comes with varying price tags on emissions.
A report by the Brattle Group, a consulting firm, found that the EPA’s plan puts the average cost of reducing carbon dioxide at $13 to $15 per ton, but costs vary widely from region to region. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions in Colorado, Udall’s state, would cost between $32.80 and $47 per ton depending on what the state does to satisfy EPA mandates.
According to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a $15 per ton carbon tax would raise gasoline prices by 15 cents per gallon in the first year and 10 cents per gallon every year after that. Using that same methodology, a $13 per ton carbon tax would raise gas prices 13 cents in the first year and about 9 cents in the following years.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce partnered with the economic consulting firm IHS to analyze the costs of a plan put forward by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, which, according to The New York Times, served as the “blueprint” for the EPA’s power plant rule.
The Chamber and IHS reported costs of $143 per metric ton of carbon dioxide reduced under the the EPA/NRDC plan. This would be accompanied by increases in power prices and decreasing economic output and employment levels.
The Chamber’s report says the western U.S., including Colorado, would see electricity rates rise 47 percent by 2030, with an average increase of nearly three percent per year.
Udall is stuck in a tight race against Republican opponent Rep. Cory Gardner. The high-stakes race could help determine which party controls the Senate,
Udall’s wife has also come out in support of taxing carbon dioxide emissions. Maggie Fox, the former president of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, said in a video produced by actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s environmental group, Green World Rising, that we need to “put a price on carbon pollution.” Green World Rising supports a carbon tax ranging from $20 per ton to $100 per ton or more, according to their website.
Udall has been treading carefully on energy issues. For example, Udall not taking a position on the Keystone XL pipeline or fracking in a state that has seen booming oil and gas produced in recent years — largely thanks to fracking.
When Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper convinced anti-fracking groups to drop ballot measures aimed at curbing the drilling technique, Udall commended the two sides for trying to find balance. But some observers have said the deal was struck to protect Udall’s and Hickenlooper’s reelection prospects in a state where drilling is driving economic growth.
“Colorado Democrats were desperate to kill the ballot measures lest they contribute to the defeat of Governor John Hickenlooper and Senator Mark Udall,” writes the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board. “Colorado sits atop one of the richest shale plays in North America and is already among the top natural-gas producing states.”
Udall’s problem is that while environmentalist cash is flooding the state in support of limits on fracking, most Coloradans support fracking. San Francisco hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer has been supporting environmental causes within Colorado along with Democratic Rep. Jared Polis.
Both Steyer and Polis collaborated to push anti-fracking ballot measures this election, but this plan was abandoned after Polis and Hickenlooper agreed to drop the ballot measures in return for a government task force to investigate fracking.
Steyer’s group NextGen Climate Action has opened five field offices in Colorado with plans to convince voters to vote for candidates who favor policies aimed at curbing fossil fuel use and fighting global warming. Steyer’s staffers are reportedly trying to brand Gardner as a “troglodyte.” The Aspen Times reports that NextGen plans to stay in Colorado even after the election ends.
“So after election day, Steyer’s money and the political organization he’s building in Colorado will almost certainly stick around to support the campaign to ban oil and natural gas production in our state and wipe out the livelihoods of tens of thousands of working Colorado families,” Simon Lomax with Energy In Depth, an oil and gas industry project that debunks environmentalist myths surrounding drilling.
Gardner’s campaign did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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