Yesterday on NPR’s radio program To the Point, I said it was dishonorable for ExxonMobil to support a carbon tax. I compared ExxonMobil’s reported embrace of carbon taxes toEnron’s lobbying for the Kyoto Protocol.
Enron was a a major natural gas distributor and saw in Kyoto a means to suppress demand for coal, natural gas’s chief competitor in the electricity fuel market. ExxonMobil is a major natural gas producer. So I took this to be another case of political capitalism – corporate lobbying to replace a competitive market with a rigged market to enrich a particular firm or industry at the expense of competitors and consumers.
The NPR program host said something like “even oil companies like ExxonMobil now support a carbon tax,” alluding to a Nov. 16 Bloomberg Businessweek article titled ”Carbon Fee From Obama Seen Viable With Backing From Exxon.” I too had read the article, and ExxonMobil’s reported behavior struck me as imprudent as well as unkosher. A carbon tax could come back to bite natural gas producers big time if the EPA decides, along the lines of Cornell University research, that fugitive methane emissions from hydraulic fracturing make natural gas as carbon-intensive as coal.
The Bloomberg article quoted an email from ExxonMobil spokesperson Kimberly Brasington:
Combined with further advances in energy efficiency and new technologies spurred by market innovation, a well-designed carbon tax could play a significant role in addressing the challenge of rising emissions. A carbon tax should be made revenue neutral via tax offsets in other areas.
Read more at GlobalWarming.org. By Marlo Lewis.
Photo credit: peace chicken (Creative Commons)