Guest opinion: Protect Utahns and our economy, oppose a carbon tax

Utah has a long history of electing pro-consumer, pro-business conservatives to represent our state in Congress. Last year, thanks in part to the unanimous support of Utah’s congressional delegation, historic tax reform passed, lifting the burden off Utah’s business community and leading to unprecedented growth of our state’s economy that has, without a doubt, improved the lives of Utahns.

But a proposal by House Climate Solutions Caucus members Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) could negate much of the success that Utah has experienced. The bill, titled the “Market Choice Act,” is a nationwide carbon tax that would wipe out the low energy costs that Utahns rely on. If passed, gas prices would immediately go up 5 cents per gallon and continue to increase. Overall, the average American’s energy expenses would rise by $275 in 2020.

Thankfully, no one in Utah’s congressional delegation has supported the Curbelo Carbon Tax yet. However, when asked about it recently, Rep. Love, who is also a member of the House Climate Solutions Caucus, said she was considering supporting it and that “there are some great things in that bill.”

Additionally, earlier this summer when given the chance to sign onto a resolution denouncing a carbon tax as detrimental to the economy, Rep. Love was one of the few Republicans to vote against the resolution.

According to the latest numbers, 92 percent of Utah’s net electric generation came from traditional energy sources, the exact same sources that would be taxed under any carbon tax legislation. The state is now a net energy exporter, thanks to an abundance of resources like natural gas, which would also be taxed under the proposal.

Not only would our energy sector be taxed into oblivion, but a number of manufacturing sectors would be taxed for their emissions, forcing higher costs on an array of goods to be passed onto consumers. And who will be charged with deciding who does and does not get taxed under the Curbelo Carbon Tax? The Environmental Protection Agency, a government agency that should have no place in picking winners and losers in the economy.

The Curbelo Carbon Tax bill also includes a rolling regulatory moratorium provision on greenhouse gas emissions, but if Rep. Love’s reasoning for considering supporting the bill is to eliminate EPA regulations, this is not the right approach. The provision in the bill is temporary and could end at any time, but is set to expire permanently in 2033, which would create regulatory chaos for impacted manufacturers.

As a member of the congressional Climate Solutions Caucus, Rep. Love has made it clear that she is concerned about the environment, but a carbon tax will have no impact on climate change. According to climate models, if the Curbelo Carbon Tax lowers U.S. greenhouse emissions to its stated goal, global temperature would be reduced by approximately .03 degrees by the end of the century. Why support a policy that not only does little to combat climate change but is also another tax on Utahns?

There is no such thing as a “free-market” carbon tax. Utahns have a proud history of supporting pro-business and small-government policies, of which a carbon tax is neither. Giving more power to Washington bureaucracy and raising our gas and electricity costs is not in our best interest.

As the November midterm elections approach, I urge Rep. Love to reject a carbon tax and to continue to focus instead on the issues that will improve the lives of Utahns.

Sharon Scott lives in Sandy, Utah.