I was talking to a friend yesterday, an expert in the science of climate change, about our differing takes on carbon taxes and policy paths forward. My friend, a glass half full guy, believes bold action is needed, and that we can and must do hard things such as, for example, raising the price of gasoline. Hard to argue with that, and maybe I’m just in a gloomy mood about the elephant problem and I’m projecting my malaise on everything else, but I see the political reality as almost certainly guaranteeing that nothing will be done that poses significant consumer/voter expense.
Which is why Tyler Cohen’s quip about Steve Chu’s energy secretary confirmation hearing drew my eye last night. He was riffing off of Matt Wald’s NYTimes post on Chu’s conversion to the view that gas prices are just fine when they’re low:
Mr. Chu, who was expected to get a friendly and brief review by the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said in prepared testimony that “last year’s rapid spike in oil and gasoline prices not only contributed to the recession we are now experiencing, it also put a huge strain on the budgets of families all across America.’’ He called for a “greater, more committed push towards energy independence, and with it a more secure energy system.’’
He had told the Wall Street Journal last September , “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” a statement likely to give some commuters a case of road rage.
[I]f he can’t get appointed for favoring higher gas prices, and in a honeymoon period at that…well…you see where this is headed.