That’s what Richard Revesz thinks we should do, instead of subsidizing this or that energy company or industry. In his Wall Street Journal piece, Revesz thinks that “greenhouse gases, smog precursors and other pollutants” should be taxed and all those subsidies done away with.
He’s half right. Subsidies have no place in American economics. To the Democrats who say “green” energy companies need the subsidies in order to grow (quickly or at all), they’ve answered the claim themselves, although they’re loathe to admit it: if a company needs a government subsidy to exist or to grow in our competitive economy, it isn’t ready for our economy. To others who say the oil and gas companies need the subsidies (a relative pittance, anyway, compared to green’s subsidies), the answer also is no they don’t. They can compete.
Revesz would be fully right if we could arrive at an accurate definition of “pollution.” Consider the current en vogue “pollutant,” atmospheric carbon dioxide. Pseudo-climatologists and other “environmentalists” like to fear-monger over CO2 in our air. They carefully ignore the fact that increases in atmospheric CO2 come after planetary warming by some 800-1,300 years. Far from being a pollutant, it’s the ordinary output of respiring life and with those lagging increases it confirms the increasing health of the planet and its burgeoning life.
Until facts stop getting in the way of the money flow, there’s no possibility of accurately defining “pollutant,” and so there’s no reasonable way to tax it.