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“Big Oil” Wants a Carbon Tax on Motor Fuels: Back to 1919?

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 3, 2010

“Key senators are weighing a request from Big Oil to levy a carbon fee on the industry rather than wrap it into a sweeping cap-and-trade system that covers most of the U.S. economy.

If accepted, the approach — supported by ConocoPhillips, BP America and Exxon Mobil Corp. — could rearrange the politics of the Senate climate debate and potentially open up votes that may not be there otherwise.”

– Darren Samuelsohn, “Senate Trio Hopes to Hit Pay Dirt with Carbon Fee on Transportation Fuels,”  Environment & Energy Daily, March 3, 2010, (subs. required)

History matters. And the record suggests that small, wedge taxes are a dangerous thing.

Consider one of the most interesting examples of political capitalism in the history of the U.S. oil and gas industry. The story concerns the first state motor fuel tax, passed in Oregon in 1919 at, you guessed it, $0.01 per gallon.…