ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Rep. John Dingell revealed Tuesday details of his plan to cut global warming, including adding a 50-cents-a-gallon tax on gasoline and ending the mortgage tax deduction on what he called “McMansions” – homes larger than 3,000 square feet.
Dingell, the auto industry’s staunchest defender in Washington, D.C., but a legislator who also has a strong environmental record, is faced with what he called the most difficult battle of his career, trying to persuade the country to accept fixes for greenhouse gases that will be unpopular and painful to people’s wallets.
As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Dingell, a Dearborn, Mich., Democrat, will be one of the handful of people who will attempt to guide Congress as it grapples with climate-change bills over the next couple of years. His committee will handle all global-warming legislation.
Dingell said at a town hall meeting in Ann Arbor, Mich., that he plans to propose a multipronged bill on Sept. 1 when Congress reconvenes. He will ask for an economy-wide tax of about $100 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions, as well as the gas tax and dumping the tax deduction for mortgage interest on big homes.
Also, Dingell will ask for a cap-and-trade system, with caps on carbon emissions that companies can trade, and extra funding for research on renewable energy.
“If we are serious about global warming, we need to reduce consumption by making it more expensive,” he said.
“We need to do things that are difficult, costly and will require sacrifice from all of us.”
Dingell said he knows these measures won’t be popular – political observers who have heard him talk about a carbon tax have already declared it dead – but are needed if the country is going to make inroads against climate change.
“This will be the most difficult undertaking in my career,” said Dingell, 81, who has served more than 50 years in Congress. Dingell said he recognizes that neither industry nor environmentalists will be satisfied with what he proposes, but that it’s time to act.
Democratic leaders in Congress have made global warming a priority, but the Bush administration opposes government-mandated actions in favor of voluntary ones.
Many Republicans in Congress oppose any kind of tax increase and would make an economy-wide tax hike an issue in the 2008 election.