I’ve published an exquisitely reasoned and balanced discussion – OK, a rant – on subsidies and by extension, minimum fuel content requirements and their whole inefficient, rent-peddling, heavy-handed, intrusive ilk, pant pant pant, in the SF Chronicle this morning. It pleads for a carbon charge:
What we should be doing, instead of the current incredibly complex and ill-targeted package of subsidy programs, is to charge for using the Earth’s limited ability to accept carbon dioxide in the air. A carbon charge (which analysts say should increase gas prices anywhere from a nickel to as much as $1.50 a gallon) would make gasoline, oil, coal and natural gas reflect their true cost. It would make ethanol or biodiesel much more expensive if manufactured with coal, and somewhat more if manufactured with natural gas, than those fuels made with minimal fossil fuels — which is how it should be. And it would set in motion a cascade of adjustments through the economy that wouldn’t have to be coercive (like the current federal fuel economy standards for cars) and wouldn’t have the very expensive errors inevitable with subsidies and regulations.