Congratulations to Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on his election to the Senate yesterday. We were, as always, interested to know where he stands on nuclear energy. Answer: in a good place.
I support common-sense environment policy that will help to reduce pollution and preserve our precious open spaces. I realize that without action now, future generations will be left to clean up the mess we leave. In order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, I support reasonable and appropriate development of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal and improved hydroelectric facilities. I oppose a national cap and trade program because of the higher costs that families and businesses would incur.
We poked around a bit, but didn’t find anything in his stump speeches about nuclear energy. But he supports carbon emission-free energy sources in lieu of a mechanism (like cap-and-trade) to force their use.
You can reduce by conservation, wind, solar, hydroelectric, nuclear,” Brown told me [reporter Fred Thys]. “You can provide a total package and let people have different avenues and different ways to heat and light their businesses. How does government enforce that? They have their hands in pretty much everything. I’m sure there’ll be a role for government — and at some point, government needs to get out of the way, as well.”
We guess cap-and-trade or another approach would be how “government enforce[s] that,” but Brown sees such an effort as a tax. There was this exchange at the last debate.
“You’re in favor of cap and trade, which is a national energy tax,” Brown said to [Martha] Coakley.
“It’s not a tax,” Coakley replied.
“It’s a tax,” Brown insisted.
Well, technically, it’s not a tax – a direct tax on carbon emissions is a tax. Cap-and-trade creates a marketplace for carbon emission credits. The government realizes revenue only if the credits are auctioned by it to get the ball rolling – and perhaps by taxing capital gains on the credits as they increase in value.
But Brown is not the only Congress person to define it this way and he’s right that industry (and the states) have moved in the direction of renewable and nuclear energy sources. So the argument that cap-and-trade or direct government action is not necessary is certainly a defensible position.
That’s what makes elections.
And remember – this is not a partisan blog – here or in the comments.