Bridging the partisan divide: Carbon pricing offers efficient climate change solution

Steffi Rausch Photo by Libby Gample


When I moved from Missoula, Mont., to Asheville, I thought my fears of extreme drought were behind me. Instead, I was surprised to learn that Western North Carolina is predicted to have longer periods of extreme drought and wildfires, punctuated by heavier, extreme precipitation events (according to the latest National Climate Assessment, a summary of the expected impacts of climate change on the United States).

Because action is the antidote to despair, I decided to get involved in finding a climate change solution, but soon realized how divisive and apathetic both sides of the political aisle had become. I knew all about the conservative viewpoints against climate action, but I didn’t expect my liberal cohorts to act in ways that aren’t helpful to finding a strong solution to the problem.

Initially, I didn’t believe my conservative congressman who said he wasn’t hearing from constituents on climate change, so I attended a few town halls, and no one spoke up on the issue but me. When I asked my liberal friends if they would attend a town hall or write a letter to their congressman, they would say, “No, because it won’t do any good.” And then some environmental leaders told me they don’t believe Congress could pass national climate change legislation, given the conservative opposition, so they would rather grow their grassroots movements locally.

While I commend everyone’s efforts, locally and nationally, I still see a breakdown of communication between the left and the right as the biggest problem toward achieving a climate solution. I started to question my one-sided environmental views and the beloved liberal town of Asheville I’m proud to call home. Had our self-congratulatory attitude become part of the problem? Had we become too complacent and accusatory to graciously extend a hand across the aisle? In my view, yes.

Social science has shown that if we talk to people about a problem but don’t offer a solution, our acceptance of that problem is radically lower, thereby causing indifference or inaction. This means that we need to start talking about common-ground solutions that turn self-interest into mutual interest and work for most everyone involved — liberals, conservatives and energy consumers as well as energy providers.

My search led me to carbon pricing, a rising fee on carbon use, which has been adopted by 40 countries overall and described by top economists as the most efficient climate change solution because it drives consumers and businesses to change their behavior without costly bureaucratic micromanagement.

Even large players like Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, BP and Shell have recommended a market-friendly carbon pricing approach because it provides greater market certainty, drives innovation in the renewable energy field and creates jobs. Businesses can’t manage what they can’t measure, so providing a more predictable increase in carbon pricing to their budget projections can help with a transition to alternate energy sources.

However, I found the revenue-neutral Carbon Fee & Dividend solution by Citizens’ Climate Lobby to be far superior to just a carbon tax because it protects consumers like us who will bear the brunt of these rising carbon costs, especially low-income households, who pay a higher percentage of their income on energy. Also, a 2013 nonpartisan economic study by REMI (Regional Economic Models Inc.) projects that CFD will grow the U.S. economy, jobs and gross domestic product while reducing our CO2 emissions to 52 percent of 1990 levels by 2035. And CFD has been implemented in four countries around the world (Sweden, Chile, Ireland, and recently, Canada) while being praised by the likes of Bill McKibben of, Bernie Sanders, George Schultz and Rex Tillerson from Exxon-Mobil. How does that sound for a solution that most everyone can embrace?

CFD’s power is in its simplicity and transparency. It charges a slowly rising fee on fossil fuel producers at the entry point to our economy (coal mine, gas/oil well or import terminal) but then returns 100 percent of the fee (less administrative costs) back to all consumers equally via a monthly dividend check. So let’s be clear — CFD is not a “tax” because the proceeds go to the people, not the government. For example, a four-person home could receive about $300/month after 10 years and about $400/month after 20 years, according to a 2013 REMI report (

We know that the fossil fuel producers will pass along the rising fee to consumers through the markets, but those increased costs will be offset by the dividend. The increased costs for carbon-intensive goods will motivate our transition away from fossil fuels, while the dividend will help offset the rising costs and allow us to funnel money back into our economy (food, retail, health care, etc.). As well, businesses will be motivated to invest in less costly, renewable energy options, and energy companies will have to adapt to survive.

The administrative costs are self-funded by the fee and very low due to the simplicity of the calculations. The rising fee will be charged to the roughly 1,140 fossil fuel producers via a simple line item on their monthly/quarterly estimated tax filings, and the rising dividends will be distributed equally to every citizen regardless of how much carbon they consume.

What’s even better is that this is an alternative to the regulatory Clean Energy Plan, which has been under assault, and our politically divided Congress won’t have to debate where the revenue should be spent. Our government does not need to be in the business of making decisions for us by giving large subsidies or tax breaks to the energy companies of their choosing, something that costs taxpayers and has not served us well over the last decades.

Basically this is a “win” for everyone involved. Just imagine a climate change solution that would enable us to bridge the divide between us. This issue is too important to not compromise — on the left and the right. If you want to learn how to engage in a positive dialogue with the other side, please join our bipartisan movement at or watch for us on the Dec. 7 episode of “Years of Living Dangerously.” Whether you are a liberal, conservative, military person, business owner, farmer, scientist or faith leader — let’s be a part of the solution we seek.

Steffi Rausch is a web designer and owner of She is also an unpaid citizen lobbyist fighting for climate change solutions in Congress and lead organizer of the Asheville Chapter for Citizens’ Climate Lobby (


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

73 thoughts on “Bridging the partisan divide: Carbon pricing offers efficient climate change solution

  1. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    Man Bear Pig is a lot like Bigfoot. Continually rumored to exist, but never any compelling evidence to prove his existence.

    • Steffi Rausch

      I would say that 99% of scientists saying this is happening and is human-caused should be proof enough for those who aren’t scientists themselves. This is not a “belief” sort of thing, it’s called science for a reason.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        The consensus of bought-off scientists is not proof of anything except they like paying their mortgage more than staying true to the ideals of science. The debate is never over in science. Once that card is played, it is simply a matter of conformity to belief. That’s why they call people who question, deniers. That is the language of religion, not science.

        • boatrocker

          Apparently overwhelming percentages and science are rigged now as well. Darn liberals!

          • Steffi Rausch

            So sorry Boatrocker. I did not mean to mention you in my comment below. I see that you have a very keen sarcastic sense of humor that I misunderstood. I apologize. Just too many comments to respond to yesterday – hard to keep up with who is who.

        • Steffi Rausch

          Okay let me rephrase that – 99% of scientists AND 195 nations around the world, of which some are already seeing the devastating effects first-hand. I am not trying to convince you to change your mind about this. I am merely giving solutions that will work. Doing nothing and disregarding all leaders and scientists on an issue does not serve anyone any good. Learn how to have a dialogue that works to create solutions for everyone, not create more problems by disregarding a valid issue. No issue is all black and white as you make it seem.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            btw, 99% of scientists do not agree that man is causing catastrophic global warming. The 97% figure that appeared in a study was fabricated. That link I provided has the details.

            Furthermore, nothing predicted has come to pass. Dire hurricanes were predicted, but we’ve since had 10+ years of NO hurricanes. It was predicted that the arctic would be ice free this year, but the ice coverage is now greater than it was then. The supposed warmest years on record (there is dispute about this) only increased by one or two hundredths of a degree, which no credible scientist will claim causes catastrophic warming. It goes on and on.

          • boatrocker

            I’m hoping you were referring to Snowflake’s comment as mine was satirizing folks who don’t believe in science.
            Sarcasm I believe it is called?

          • Lulz

            LOL, our government doesn’t need to make decisions for us except smoking bans in private businesses, right? I’m sure you’re all for that lulz.

            You’re worried about the water LOL? Talk to your friends who sold us out to the breweries. Funny how that works.

            To assume that man has any control over the sun, moon, stars, climate, are anything else is absurd.

        • Mike

          As a real scientist with an MS is in Computer Science and a PHD in Math who has spent a 40 year career building computer models of physical systems I can say with 100% confidence that NOBODY knows the long term effects of increased CO2. Some may be good. Some may be bad. But those who predict cataclysmic consequences are simply fear mongers. Why do you think they CHANGED THE NAME from global warming to climate change???

          • The Real World

            (Raising my hand), I know, I know! Because the planet stopped warming , right?

            I defer to you or any learned scientist who has deeply studied the matter. I am not one, nor have I studied it.

            BUT, what does interest me is when a, ahem, politician lines everything up (slick movie, all sort of awards, the media in his pocket, scientists on the payroll and on and on) to present to the world a “most urgent problem” that he and he his friends just happen to be making major coin from. That’s called: conflict of interest, folks. Because objectivity does not exist when big amounts of money are on line.

            And, of course, my favorite half-human international wrecking ball is involved.
            MANY other articles online about how much dough Ole Al is making off all of this.

          • Steffi Rausch

            It sounds to me like you have never lived in those places that are at the forefront of climate change to see firsthand their ill-effects. I can just imagine you telling these very people that what they are experiencing is all a hoax. Just go to Senegal, Africa, Galapagos islands, Texas & Colorado & Montana & Miami, India, Phillippines, the list goes on and on. It is a sad day when people like you spend your time writing misinformation to these blogs while others suffer around the world and while those are trying to fight for them have to work and make money and don’t have time to respond to your every comment. It is sad that you don’t have the experience or understanding for what others around the world are going through because you are lucky enough to not have it happen to you yet. It is sad that we are wasting our time talking to someone who doesn’t listen to anyone else but themselves and a one-sided view. And it is sad that you haven’t even read the article to understand how this option is good for all of us – to grow our economy while creating cleaner air, and putting money in citizens’ pockets to encourage people to conserve and use less energy. How are those bad things? But somehow you see it as that. Your reality is not based in fact nor understanding. I have nothing left to say but that you will lose this battle, as we all will unless we take action to make this a better place.

          • The Real World

            Let’s clarify some things:
            1) There is no disagreement from anyone about climate changing. It always has and sometimes violently for periods of time. The contention is whether humans are definitively affecting change in negative ways.

            2) You have not spoken about the well-regarded scientists who dispute the idea that humans are primarily the cause of any climate changes. Please explain why you are able to ignore their views?

            3) You have not addressed the profound monetary conflict of interest that so many of loudest trumpeters have. Please explain how you can be at peace with that lack of objectivity on their part?.

            4) Without doing a poll, I feel confident in stating that likely 90% + of humans on this planet would agree that waste and pollution are bad and that clean air and water are good. We still have much work to do on all 4 of those very real and indisputable issues. Why would your efforts not be exerted towards those?

            There is much common ground to be found. I don’t understand why you don’t want to find that so we could work together. Please explain.

          • James Tolbert

            Mike, your description of the situation is even worse. We know absolutely that carbon dioxide gas is one of the green house gasses that helps keep the earth a bit warmer than it would be. The chemistry is well understood, and the math is easy for you to look up and check if you really have a PhD in math (or just a PHD?) We also know for certain that CO2 concentrations have raised from 280 ppm before the industrial revolution to now over 400 ppm – again, absolutely no argument from anyone on that. We also know that the CO2 increase has been caused by human activity – burning fossil fuel with some contribution from land use changes. So, if your argument is that we know we are significantly changing the concentration of a major gas that impacts the temperature of the earth’s surface, and you hold that all of our attempts to project how seriously this will impact us are useless, then we really need to ratchet back our use of fossil fuels quicker and more radically since in your world, the impacts may be much WORSE then the computer models. Your logic doesn’t seam to hold. Unless you really don’t care and just want to keep doing whatever it is you want without regard for consequences.

          • Mike

            Dear James, If you are suspicious of my spelling of PHD instead of PhD please google Banach Spaces of lp valued holomorphic mappings You can download it it from the Duke Math Journal and critique it. If you wish. That was my best and last pure math work. From there you can google my name and find many of my computer science papers. Regards, Mike

          • James Tolbert

            Mike, Sorry about the snide tone in the third sentence. I work to keep that out. I take you at your word that you have a Ph.D., that you teach computer science, and that you worked hard and earned these honors. I do get frustrated by the argument that there are flaws in the models therefore we must not know anything. It is a rather poor argument. I, personally, like the phrase that “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” I’ll stick with the rest of my comment – that if you want to argue that the models have significant error bars, then we need to have just as much discussion about the side where the actual results have a HIGHER impact than the model. It is not a reasonable argument that you don’t like the projection, therefore everything will be OK.
            But, again, I do apologize for getting a bit sour in the third sentence.
            That said, I would look back at some of your own wording – you started out differentiating yourself as “a real scientist” (drawing contrast to whom, the people on the National Academy of Sciences that must be fake scientists? And then you indicated anyone’s models that indicated a higher response to CO2 levels is just “fear mongering” – what makes you know their motivation? And have you reviewed the literature out on the subject? I fully accept my poor tone, I also ask you to evaluate your own use of terms.

          • boatrocker

            Bravo James- it does get tiresome pointing out obviously partisan websites, eh?

            I especially liked skimming Snowflake’s link to find a study conducted by that
            stalwart bastion of scientific integrity,
            Brigham Young University.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            Sierra club is just an echo chamber for sites like you’ve listed, so what you’ve presented is a false equivalency. There is no critical thinking involved at Sierra Club; they simply regurgitate what they hear. wattsupwiththat actually questions and challenges the orthodoxy, which is the true essence of science.

        • Lulz

          LOL, you’re talking about people that think Trump is going to start a nuclear war lulz. They are ignorant. They can have 3 college degrees and literally are the dumbest people in the world Snow. No ability to think, no ability to question, no ability to do anything but rally around what OTHERS present to them. Whether fact or fiction. But you know this.

          • James Tolbert

            Lulz, that is one easy way to dismiss ideas you don’t agree with – insult the people and don’t even use your real name. Most people reading the Mountain Express see through that device.

      • The Real World

        Don’t know where the 99% comes from. Likely a number that the monied interests supporting this issue get their friends in the media to spout. The fact is, numerous well-respected climate scientists always disputed the “consensus” or changed their initial support after studying the matter closely themselves.

        Here is one 5 min video of Dr Judith Curry describing this very thing:
        Elsewhere I’ve heard her and a couple of other well-regarded colleagues scoff at the carbon credit concept and declare it to be, “nothing more than an idea to be monetized and to provide the fat cats an excuse to still live in huge house, have private planes, etc.”

        • Lulz

          Exactly. Change of any kind cannot be pushed through government fines or taxation. That’s what people like Rausch can’t comprehend. They falsely assume that those in government are somehow above criminality or selfishness. And while she’s willing to hand over money merely to brag to her cohorts of her “sacrifices”, she will in all reality still live comfortably while others continue to struggle. It’s people like her who are leading the way of gentrification in the area. It’s insane to jack up prices via the government and then “help” the same people out via the same mechanism with subsidies. That’s called wealth transference Rausch.

        • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

          The 99% figure is a media exaggeration of the 97% figure that appeared in a study produced by a few climate activists (not scientists) who examined writings related to climate, some of which were not even scientific papers. They concluded that 97% of scientists believed in catastrophic man-made global warming. Their study has been exposed as a complete fraud.

          • The Real World

            Yes, I am aware of that. I was hoping Steffi would come and explain where the number came from.

            The 97% number is a manufactured one. The vested interests got their media pals to state it as: “97% of climate scientists agree……” when, in fact, that percentage come from the scientists (less than 200, I believe) on the IPCC panel. They are a fraction of the number in the world and several have commented publicly that the wording of many of the questions they were given to answer was ambiguous, didn’t make sense or seemed written to guide toward particular answers.

            Steffi and Jan – I commend your concern for this amazing, living organism; our planet and home. I am with you in the concern but I think you have nothing to lose but a little bit of time to verify the accuracy of what has been claimed about this issue. I declare….all day long and tomorrow too….that when the touters of something are also the ones making alot of money off that thing, a wise person says, “hold on and let me look at this more closely.” There are numerous Youtube video’s of Dr. Judith Curry testifying before Congress (other climate scientists too). I think you’d find them interesting and worth the time.

  2. Deplorable Infidel

    steffi…the climate has ALWAYS changed and it ALWAYS WILL! Spare us the drama please. Get over yourselves. Greatest HOAX ever tried to be duped on the whole world. When 3rd world countries comply then let me know. Sick of the oversold idiotic climate change BS! Algore too! He’s on track to become a billionaire from carbon taxes. DUH. Wake up sheeple.

    • James Tolbert

      Deplorable Infidel, some people have always died from diseases, and some people always will. That doesn’t mean that we don’t study them and try to save the lives we can. That doesn’t mean we should stop pasteurizing milk. That doesn’t mean we don’t vaccinate our kids and just hope they do all right – after all, someone survived even before we had vaccines. Your attempts to get people to ignore science and cause-and-affect relationships is rather odd. And, yes, climate scientists really do understand the science they study better than you do.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        No, they really don’t understand the science. That’s why they have to keep making excuses for when nature doesn’t do what their models say it will do. If they really understand climate science their models would predict correctly.

  3. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    This was just said at a DNC defeat rally by a staffer. It’s hilarious and pathetic that people are so stupid to actually believe this contrary to all evidence.

    ““You are part of the problem,” he continued, blaming Brazile for clearing the path for Trump’s victory by siding with Clinton early on. “You and your friends will die of old age and I’m going to die from climate change. You and your friends let this happen, which is going to cut 40 years off my life expectancy.””

  4. Jan Freed

    Why even bother with the paid deniers and front groups who thrive creating the delay of a false debate?

    A revenue neutral carbon fee with a dividend, makes enormous sense! !
    Economists and scientists say it is the best solution to the threat of our carbon emissions.

    It is not a tax. This way citizens would RECEIVE the carbon fees as a monthly check, for example. That would protect us from price spikes in dirty energy.

Polluters PAY the fees, so it holds fossil fuel corporations responsible for the damages. or externalitites, they cause, hundreds of billions of dollars per year (Harvard School of Medicine).
    It would more rapidly lower emissions than regulations alone, as happened in BC Canada with a similar, popular policy. BC lowered both emissions and taxes with their fees.
    A study by respected non-partisan Regional Economic Modeling, Inc. found the dividends would help to create 2.9 million additional jobs in 20 years, while reducing emissions 50% in that time.

    To those who reject the science: perhaps nothing will change your mind. But what have you got against cleaner air, less asthma in our kids, fewer heart attacks, and more money (the dividend) in your pockets?

    To those accepting the science: Any effort to
 limit the problem of climate change is worth it. For example: the cost of sea level rise ALONE is so great that no effort to prevent it is unwarranted.

    Elon Musk was asked “what can we do? ” Musk: “I would say whenever you have the opportunity, talk to the politicians.,,,,. We have to fix the unpriced externality [social cost]. I would talk to your friends about it and fight the propaganda from the carbon industry.”

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      Oil companies don’t care about carbon taxes because they will simply incorporate the costs into what consumers pay. So like Obamacare’s “It’s not a tax!”, it really is a tax. Progressives are just dredging the barrel trying to find more creative ways to pick peoples’ pockets.

      • Steffi Rausch

        Contrary to your belief, ExxonMobil has been in support of a revenue-neutral tax (or fee & dividend type of pricing) for quite some time as is written about on their own website: And yes, they won’t be hurt by this because like I said in my article they will pass along the cost to us. However, a higher carbon price will enable them to move into the renewable realm with a more stable market prediction of rising carbon costs as well as avoid regulatory costs. CEOs can’t manage what they can’t measure. A stable rise in cost on carbon helps them predict the markets better and enable their transition for the future. Their reasons are explained as such in the article “minimal regulatory complexity and maximum transparency; and the flexibility to make future adjustments.”

        Also if it is truly revenue-neutral and the money given back to the people it is not considered a tax per the definition – “a compulsory contribution to state revenue”. This dividend would then help offset the burden to the people, something I’m sure you and everyone on here would greatly appreciate when received in the mail, as they have done in Alaska with the oil dividends for a decade now. You truly need to read my article more in depth to get a complete understanding, something i’m sure you haven’t taken the time to do.

    • Steffi Rausch

      Thank you Jan for your support. You make some wonderful points. We hope to see you at our meeting this Saturday if you can make it. Just contact us via our facebook page to signup for our emails.

  5. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    Galileo was a denier. He denied that the sun orbited the earth, which theory was the consensus of government funded astronomers (scientistis) then. He was accused of heresy against the orthodoxy and punished. The same thing is happening today. The government funded scientific community calls those who don’t agree with their orthodoxy, deniers, and punishes them (no grants). So real scientists today face opposition from secular faith, rather than religious faith.

  6. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    You’re plan to bridge the partisan divide through taxation is unlikely to be fruitful. In a recent national survey in which participants rated their concerns about a list of social issues, only 3% considered global warming to be a significant concern. So your worldview relative to everything else represents an extreme minority.

    • Steffi Rausch

      Again your view is quite skewed, limited, and inaccurate. Pew Research suggests – What the world thinks about climate change in 7 charts – “Majorities in all 40 nations polled say climate change is a serious problem, and a global median of 54% believe it is a very serious problem.”

      I also don’t need to duplicate my message about what is a “tax” and what is not when the money comes back to us.

      BTW, are you writing us from California? Hmm I wonder why you spend so much time on an Asheville, NC blog.

      • boatrocker

        You an even find CASnowflake’s latitude and longitude from that link- cool!

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        No not CA. My linkup switches through places all over the country. thinks I’m in WA sometimes, MD in others.

      • The Real World

        Steffi –
        Would you care to share how you are able to discern an IP address with no linked Username or personal website provided?

        • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

          She must have a mole at MtnX who divulged that information to her, or she works there herself.

          • Steffi Rausch

            Not everything is a conspiracy and because you seem to think this is, just proves your mindset. Looking up someone’s IP address is not hard to figure out when you know how to use a computer, but sorry I do not care to share this with you due to your lack of respect for a decent dialogue on this issue. Just continue thinking it is a conspiracy – because that is the only way you can make sense of it, right? No more response from me. I have better things to attend to. Goodluck with your views in life, definitely not my view. Life is just not that simple, it sometimes takes having hard conversations with the powers that be to make change, but instead you just write them all off as conspirators because it is easy.

          • The Real World

            I did not assert a conspiracy, just asked a simple question. So, your answer to me is: take a hike? But, you want your information considered?

            I have other considered questions posted above a couple of hours ago.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        When people are presented with a poll that asks if they’re concerned about climate change, then the poll will be heavily skewed in that direction. When the poll contains many items of concern and the people are asked to rate them in order of concern (as the poll I mentioned did), then it drops way down, almost to the point of insignificance.

        • James Tolbert

          Once again, Snowflake is relying on WattsUpWithThat as if it presented objective information. The pole Snowflake refers to asked what is THE MOST IMPORTANT issue facing the country. It did not in any way suggest that people are not concerned about climate change. Personally, I think our national debt, and the fiscal crisis coming up with Social Security are of immediate concerns. If I put one of those as the Most Important issue for our country to address, it would not at all suggest that I do not think climate change needs to be addressed.

        • luther blissett

          “When the poll contains many items of concern and the people are asked to rate them in order of concern… then it drops way down”

          And? You’re just demonstrating that climate change is the most insidious of problems for dumb humans to appreciate, because it’s not the same as having a blocked toilet.

  7. KD

    So umm…I guess I’m an unpaid citizen lobbyist for freedom, liberty, property rights, and common sense! haha! Does that put us on equal footing, Ms. Rausch? I get the feeling you are just another carpetbagger watermelon (green on the outside, red on the inside) late-comer the AVL scene. Please get over yourself. You are not a unique, special snowflake, you were not invited here to educate us or lead us into tikkun olam. You will be much more effective and welcome in your pursuits if you pack up and get back to Montana or some part of the LIberal Yankeeland Empire….check one of the electoral maps, you will find welcome on the blue coastal urban sprawl areas that think like you…Us “deplor-rabble” in the red states have rather clearly told y’all to back the hell off and leave us in peace…get the hint and don’t be dense, it’s just bad etiquette.

    Now, to the point, let’s cut the crap and get real on energy:

    We keep hearing about carbon taxes, “renewable” or “green” energy and similar.

    Folks, it’s time to cut the crap — well, actually, it’s far beyond that point.

    Let’s take a base cost, which is reasonably conservative (in other words, too low) of about 8 cents/kwh for wind power. Costs vary widely at the consumer level across the country, but that starting figure sounds pretty reasonable from the published data when it comes to actual cost of wind generation.

    The problem is that it is a false paradigm unless you are willing to accept limitations nobody will in today’s world.

    A fossil fuel or nuclear plant will produce power except during either (1) planned shutdowns for maintenance or (2) unplanned shutdowns (e.g. emergencies, unanticipated failures requiring a shutdown to correct them, etc) during its design life. There is no such guarantee for either solar or wind because both rely on something you cannot control.

    Our expectation as a society is that whenever we wish to flip the switch and have the lights come on they will. We can only achieve the “claimed” cost figures for “green energy” if we are willing to violate that expectation; that is, if there is no wind or solar at that time, when you flip the switch nothing happens because the power is in fact off due to lack of supply.

    In order to prevent that from happening we can add on the following options either singly or in combination:

    We can build much more capacity than required and store some of it. So, for example, let’s say that we need 1,000MWe (1 Gigawatt of electrical power) for a given area. We can generate more than that much during the time the wind is blowing and store some of it. However, the laws of thermodynamics tell us that all energy conversions have loss; that is, not only is there no such thing as a free lunch but you can’t break even either. If we convert the energy to potential energy (e.g. pump water up a hill) and then when we need it use that water to power a turbine (generating electricity just as we do with a dam) a highly aggressive target would suggest that we might achieve 80% efficiency from each of those two steps. Arithmetic tell us that this comes out to 0.8 * 0.8 = 0.64, or 64% of the energy we put in will be returned. This means that if we are absolutely certain (p = 0.995, or 1 in 1,000 odds that we’re wrong) that the wind will blow at a sufficient velocity to generate the energy we want 2/3rds of the time in a given location we must in fact produce 1 + (0.33 / 0.64) = 150% of the energy we wish to consume (that is, install 50% more windmills) and we must also install (and pay for) the pumped storage and generation system. Note that this immediately takes that 8 cents/kwh to 12c plus the cost of the storage and generation system and the people to run it.

    We can build a fossil fuel plant to back up the windmills and staff that too. Given the above figures, since we’re not storing anything, we must now build a 1,000MWe fossil plant and keep it both maintained and ready to be put online as required so as to provide any percentage of the shortfall up to and including 100% (if there is no wind.) However, you must add the cost of said plant, its staffing and the fuel to run it when its operating to the wind power cost! While the fossil plant is competitive with wind power on the operating cost that assumes its depreciation is on a 100% use basis. It’s not; in the above case where the statistical data says that 1/3rd of the time the wind will not blow at a sufficient rate to provide the power we are in fact tripling the deprecation rate assigned to the fossil plant when it is running because the depreciation must be spread over the whole, not just when the fossil plant is “on.” This makes the backup source cost skyrocket, and thus we no longer are anywhere near competitive.

    Solar has the same problem, for the same basic reason — you cannot control when the sun shines at a sufficient flux to generate the power required. Yes, there are places in the United States where the sun is likely to shine on an un-obscured basis far more often than in other places, and transmission via HVDC lines (rather than AC) has materially less loss over long distances (and is convenient for solar since a solar cell generates DC power in the first place; as such it requires only one conversion, to AC at the receiving end, if HVDC transmission is used.) But again, unless we are willing to be blacked out when we’re wrong we must cover the solar production the same way we cover wind!

    Nobody is running the numbers in this regard on an honest basis when they talk about “green energy.” The fact of the matter is that the claims of the proponents are, in essentially every case, understated by 50% or more, as the above shows. This means your electric bill, in such a system, will either rise by at least 50% or you must be willing to make the trade-off that when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining you have no electricity available at all.

    Let’s debate the actual issues with actual costs — not pie-in-the-sky intentional lies put forward by the so-called “green energy” folks and their political “partners.”

    • luther blissett

      That’s a lot of overwrought guff and waffle to avoid the fact that the countries that plan on ruling the roost as the 21st century develops don’t particularly want their cities swathed in a brown-coal smog, are betting big on green energy, and don’t care too much about market rates.

      They’ll be toasting the demise of the “deplor-rabble” who rode their own misplaced sense of superiority into the dirt. Oh well, at least you can cut down a few more acres of forest to keep you going.

  8. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    This scheme to make a carbon tax palatable by offering a rebate reminds me of a multilevel marketing scam I once knew. Buy products from your own business at inflated prices, and then receive a rebate check each month based on what you purchased. Of course, it was cheaper to be a smart shopper and not participate in the scam, but the lure was the hope of drawing others into the business under you so that you would receive residual income from their purchases and eventually get rich. What was not public knowledge was that getting rich depended on reaching the level where you could sell motivational materials, which is where the killer $$$ was made.

    So with this carbon tax/rebate scam you pay more, but it’s mollified with a rebate, and you get to save the planet (or so you think). But the only people who will get rich are those in the unnecessary level of bureaucracy that is created. And anybody with any sense should know that the rebate is just a ploy to deceive gullible people, and it would eventually be eliminated once the tax is in place.

    • Steffi Rausch

      Snowflake, The Real World, Boatrocker – You seem to reply to ALOT of posts on climate change and it amazes me the time you have to do so. Your scheme of sewing doubt about climate change reminds me of how a “professional class of deceivers” had been paid by the tobacco industry, which for decades used deceitful tactics to deny the scientific evidence that cigarettes are harmful to human health. I can only assume that YOU are paid by the fossil fuel industry to cast doubt on the science of climate change. Enough said.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        Not paid; just bored sometimes. This exercises my mind.

        You just contradicted yourself. First you said that the fossil fuel industry is for carbon taxation, now you imply that they are fighting it with paid sock puppets. Which is it?

        • Steffi Rausch

          It makes no sense why someone would be bored enough to reply to climate change posts alone.

          • Lulz

            LOL, are you a scientist? Ever worked at a power plant? Hell, have you ever worked a real job? It makes no sense that someone who has enough time to “volunteer” also has the ability to assume others can afford their brand of communism either. But we know, we know. Us mere proles aren’t smart enough. We’ll just toil for 60 hours a week just to get by while you and your friends can “volunteer”. And of course fly off 10 times a year in a big gas guzzling jet to travel the world patting yourselves for saving the world.

        • “This exercises my mind.”

          Yes. Like jabbing at a lifeless punching bag. It’s a good workout. But, in the end, it’s still just a dead bag.

      • The Real World

        Steffi – Way to reach into the stratosphere to think that little ole me in Avl, NC is being paid by big corporate to expound on anything on the little Mountain Express website. What???

        Would you be kind enough to answer my reasonable questions above, or is that a “no”?

      • boatrocker

        Easy there, tiger.

        2 of my brief comments used sarcasm to satirize the idiocy of climate change deniers, one pointed out that Galileo took on deniers of the Earth orbiting the Sun and one was pure amazement that you could find and post another’s IP address publicly.

        Trust me, we all have to tolerate Snowflake’s unfocused altright anger , but I for one consider you publishing his IP address for all to see to be poor posting form, regardless of how easy it may be to do so. Don’t be surprised if he were to do the same.

        In short, I actually agree with your assertions, so before you put me in that same basket with the rest of those posters, get a grip.

  9. JoeSauer

    Steffi, I am from Lafayette, Indiana (retired chemical engineer). Thanks for your article; I put it on my FB page. Your article was linked on an email I received today from the CarbonWA group ( That must mean they liked how you explained CFD policy; I did too. I assume you are already a member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. I just joined 3-6-2016; it has been good from me emotionally and spiritually. I wish you the best, and applaud your efforts to speak out in as careful ways as possible.
    Remember that it isn’t always so much about who we are directly talking to, but, maybe more important, about the untold thousands of people, in the background, who are listening to us & how we talk, to whom our word will spread far and wide. Love, grace & sacrificial humility should be our banner & is the best way to make truth prosper (Isaiah 55:11). This is hard to do, but with God’s grace all things are possible.
    PS: The readings for this Sunday ( serve well for us all to ponder & reflect on. My prayers are with you, your community & all those (especially the young) who have the gift of fortitude to speak out with knowledge, understanding & wisdom. Respectfully, Joe Sauer.

  10. Carbon tax is regressive since in America, the poor spend a bigger percentage of income on fossil fuels than the rich with their nosebreather Priuses etc. So carbon tax advocates will need to propose something VERY progressive to compensate; unless you want carbon tax to be almost as classist as nosebreater elitist zoning.

    • Steffi Rausch

      Samantha, in my article I am not by any means proposing simply a carbon tax. I am proposing something better than that – Carbon Fee & Dividend or what some might call a revenue-neutral tax meaning the fee income will be given back to the people equally in the form of a monthly dividend check. This is what will help to offset the impact to the lower-income households who like you say do in fact pay a higher percentage of their income on energy costs. However, with that said, lower income households typically have a lower than average carbon footprint so if the average dividend given back to them gives them more in their pockets than they pay in the fee out, then it will benefit them to have this solution implemented. They will make money vs. losing money. Also realize that if we don’t implement anything at all, the poor will be further disenfranchised due to their inability to deal with the impacts of climate variability – which will cause increased energy costs, risk of losing their homes to wildfires, the push for migration from coastal areas, the increased cost of food, etc.

  11. ONLY contraception can stop climate change. Carbon policy is a damaging diversion worth actively killing to give the greenie nosebreathers no other choice but to fund contraception and NOTHING ELSE!

    • Steffi Rausch

      This truly is a saddening negative comment that has nothing in it worth responding to. I recommend to everyone trying to find solutions by working with or engaging with both sides on this issue vs. just complaining or condescending the other side.

  12. Rausch is proposing FEDERAL policy, which is clearly a pipedream. Any response to climate change must come from the bottom up, meaning we must start with municipal policy. What municipalities have the power to tax carbon? what counties? what states even? Municipalities CAN and DO fund contraception, so that is clearly within the art of the possible. Better stick with that.

    • Steffi Rausch

      Whatever works is what i say we should do. So if you want to help in the municipal effort then please go ahead. However, we need to do something drastic to deal with this crisis because we literally have 4 years to reduce our emissions drastically. And CCL has been working with Congress on this bipartisan solution for almost 7 years now and have made some progress with republicans signing on to a Gibson Resolution as well as a bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House. This is not a pipedream at all. CF&D has been implemented in 4 other countries around the world including Canada recently, a fact I mentioned in my article that you fail to recognize. If you want to learn all about our efforts in Congress then check out the latest episode Politics of Climate Change on National Geographic’s Years of Living Dangerously:

Leave a Reply to Steffi Rausch ×

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.