Should Fossil Fuels Be Taxed Or Banned? - Honolulu Civil Beat


About the Author

Henry Curtis

Henry Curtis has been executive director of Life of the Land since 1995, and has a BA in Economics from Queens College, City University of New York.


Fossil fuel giants ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, Goldman Sachs, Ford and GM are for it.

Progressive nonprofits are on the opposing side: Greenpeace, Food & Water Watch, Sunrise Movement, Friends of the Earth, Indigenous Environmental Network, Climate Justice Alliance and Life of the Land.

In the middle are mainstream environmental groups who must choose sides: should fossil fuels be taxed or banned?

The fossil fuel industry is pushing the tax approach. Let us use up our trillions of dollars of untapped petroleum, and in exchange, we will pass on higher rates to consumers.

Justice advocates note that economically challenged minority communities always seem to get all the undesirable infrastructure.

Instead of allowing these intrusive systems to remain in exchange for a monetary payment, they should be banned. We need to stop our addiction to oil.

The government likes taxes. They tax everything: taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, property and personal income raise money for the government to enable the funding of programs. Taxes on fossil fuel would provide another revenue stream for politicians to play with.

An offshore oil rig. The fossil fuel industry is pushing for a carbon tax, but that’s the wrong way to go. Cathy Whitfield/Flickr

Extreme Weather

The COVID-19 pandemic is minor compared to the unfolding climate nightmare. A small increase in global temperature due to greenhouse gas emissions has triggered extreme weather events including intense hurricanes, rain bombs and flooding, and has led to massive coastal erosion.

Human misery is on the rise. Health impacts will overload the medical industry. Billions of climate migrants will cross borders seeking new homes. This can only be slowed down by banning the underlying culprit.

COVID-19 is minor compared to the climate nightmare.

Carbon taxes are all the rage today. They are the miracle golden key that will save us. But will they, or will a carbon tax just provide green money for politicians and greenwashing for corporations?

To date, global carbon emissions have generally been extremely low. A few countries have higher carbon taxes and that has led to unintended harm. The carbon tax has decreased fossil fuel use and replaced it with tree-based energy which emits high levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Due to the power and influence of the fossil fuel industry, tree-burning is considered carbon neutral. Burn something, ignore all emissions associated with the forest razing industry, and clear-cutting forests has become the new coal.

It’s dirtier, more polluting, yet politically defined to be carbon neutral, so the fossil fuel industry wants to burn down forests to save the planet.

Obviously one can’t have both. Greenhouse gas emissions, whether from fossil fuel or tree-burning must be halted. Fossil fuels must be eliminated as fast as possible.

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About the Author

Henry Curtis

Henry Curtis has been executive director of Life of the Land since 1995, and has a BA in Economics from Queens College, City University of New York.


Latest Comments (0)

Excellent article, laying out the stakeholder issues. First and foremost, continuing to burn and pollute with fossil fuels is no longer an option, at any market price, as the global heating consequences have placed Hawaii and the world on is a climate trajectory leading to a tipping point of no return. We have, and are, heating up the planet into a new norm of CO2 levels in excess of 400 ppm - a point similar what climatologists and geologists describe as entering Earth's mid-Pliocene period, when, about three million years ago, global ice sheets melted and sea levels were estimated to be 40 - 65 feet higher than today. As the dominant species on Earth, we have a responsibility to ourselves and to all life on Earth not to destroy the livability of this one-of-a-kind planet.We are long past the time of ignorance and denial, or to be discussing higher taxes vs. sunsetting our dependency and use of fossil fuels which are destructive and energy obsolete.  It will be disruptive, but we have the means to transition quickly to a global clean energy economy, all that is needed is the will to do it, and to do it now!       

BeyondKona · 1 week ago

The soon-to-be-released and distributed free energy machines will change the course of human history. Until then, there is not too much that we can do.

Scotty_Poppins · 1 week ago

Don't be a part of the whining chorus - be part of the solution. Fossil fuels will only go away if we succeed in creating alternative ways to create, transport and store energy that are sustainable, affordable, highly scalable, and universally applicable. The technologies that we have today are a good start but they do not come anywhere close to fitting the bill. Start with your own family: encourage your children and grandchildren to study math, science and engineering; also teach them to identify, avoid and ignore the fluff and nonsense schools and colleges are filled with these days. Persistently lobby Congress to fund energy R&D at drastically higher levels to enable true innovation - this hasn't been done since the 1970s! Learn to identify and vocally oppose the myriads of scams that revolve around the so-called "Green Economy Agenda". Repeat after me: Fossil fuels cannot be banned or taxed out of existence. They can only be replaced with something better. No viable replacement technologies currently exist. Taxpayer money that should be directed toward energy R&D largely goes toward boondoggles and pork-barrel spending. We must fight to change this.

Chiquita · 2 weeks ago

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