By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor
CONCORD — Republican U.S. Senate candidate for the U.S. Senate Jim Rubens on Tuesday released a memo detailing his stark change of heart on a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system to address climate change.
Rubens continues to believe climate change is a man-made phenomenon, and is unique among GOP candidates in that view. But recently, he abandoned his original plan to address it with a tax on emissions as part of a revenue-neutral tax reform plan.
He now calls for an end to subsidies, including for oil and natural gas, and other government-induced promotions of certain forms of energy.
Rubens is a former consultant for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a position he held for eight years before running for the Senate.
In that role in 2008, he penned an opinion piece in which he talked about the pros and cons of a carbon tax versus a cap-and-trade system. He argued at that time for cap-and-trade, writing, “Like the cigarette tax, which is also designed in part to reduce consumption of a product with costly social consequences, a carbon tax is predictable and simple to administer.”
“We can’t afford to wait any longer to enact climate policy,” he wrote in the Concord Monitor. “We’re already feeling the effects of global warming and if we continue on the current course, we will face more extreme weather, infrastructure damage, loss of our four seasons, and unnecessary loss of human lives.”
Last week, the Union of Concerned Scientists lauded the Obama administration EPA’s new proposed regulations that would cut emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Cap-and-trade would be part of the plan, which gives states flexibility on how to address the goals of the proposed policy.
But Rubens had a different view than the organization he previously advised.
He told the New Hampshire Journal in an email, “The newly proposed EPA power plant carbon rule (of which I read all 645 pages) will wind up as a political failure.
“The rule is impossibly complex, will be tangled in years of litigation, and has zero visible support among Republicans in Congress. The 2030 carbon emission reduction requirements appear to be politically, rather than environmentally determined. For example, New Hampshire must reduce emissions by 46%, but only 18% in coal-state West Virginia.”
Rubens continued, “Carbon trading schemes, emission caps and taxes have largely failed worldwide to reduce emissions. Instead, I have proposed an innovation-based solution that will allow clean energy sources to win in the marketplace by virtue of their lower costs.”
In a campaign email Tuesday, entitled “Free Market Energy Solutions,” Rubens repeated the same argument against the new EPA proposal.
He also acknowledged, “I had previously backed a revenue neutral tax swap endorsed by many conservative economists where the proceeds of a carbon tax would be used dollar for dollar to reduce corporate and payroll taxes to stimulate domestic investment and job growth.”
But he also repeated his current view that, “This (carbon tax) plan has proven a political non-starter in either the current or prospective House or Senate. I am a problem solver. I have therefore revised my plan to focus free market solutions and my energy innovation acceleration strategy which will more quickly address energy pollution, supply, and cost challenges.”
And in a change from 2008, he wrote, “I oppose cap and trade because of its ineffectiveness and excessive complexity and government intervention.”
Fellow Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown, meanwhile, has opposed the proposed new EPA regulations, saying they will force electricity rates to go higher.Brown also wants more congressional oversight over “keeping in check” what he views as a “proliferation” of EPA rules.
Both candidates support the Keystone XL pipeline.
Brown this week has been accusing Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of supporting a “national energy tax” on carbon emissions last year. Today, Brown’s campaign cited as “proof” of her support for such a tax her vote in March 2013 for an amendment that would “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to ensuring that all revenue from a fee on carbon pollution is returned to the American people.”