Nader comments on energy and coal

A well known environmental website — — has an interview with third party presidential candidate
Ralph Nader. In this interview, Nader discusses his views on coal and energy.

I have quoted the pertinent (i.e.: coal-related) information here. The remainder of the interview is available on the Grist website.

Q: Going forward, what sets your environmental platform apart from the other candidates’?

A: I’m basically promoting a massive conversion from a hydrocarbon-based economy to a carbohydrate-based economy. …

Q: Let’s get more specific about how you would implement this massive shift. You propose a carbon pollution tax, for instance. How would that work?

A: You tax inefficient technology and you tax pollution. The carbon tax would not be a credit exchange [as in a cap-and-trade program], which can be easily manipulated. It would be a straight-out tax on hydrocarbon production at the production source — where it’s far, far removed from consumers and forces better choices of technology from the get-go.

Q: Would energy producers then pass an increase in prices along to consumers in the form of higher gasoline and electricity prices?

A: … To protect consumers, you could have an excess profits tax on companies such as Exxon, and rebate it back to the customer. Or we could use the proceeds from the pollution tax to build more alternative public transit — that would relieve the burden on consumers.

Q: Some people argue that a carbon tax is political suicide because you can’t make taxes appeal to voters, period.

A: Look, this is not a gasoline tax. This is not a final product tax that directly hits consumers. It’s a tax at the coal mine, a tax at the oil well. …

Q: Nuclear makes up 20 percent of America’s electricity supply. Coal makes up more than half. Would you phase out coal as well, or do you believe in the promise of advanced coal technology?

A: There’s no such thing as clean coal. Anybody who’s been down in a coal mine knows that. You’ve got to phase out all fossil fuels: first coal and oil, then natural gas.

A: How quickly would you phase out fossil fuels?

Q: If we had the will, we could convert most of [the infrastructure] in 20
to 25 years, and that includes a significant portion of the housing and
building stock, which you’ll replace with different types of structures
and solar architecture, and retrofit existing buildings for solar water
heating and photovoltaic.

19. March 2008 by
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