My colleague Neil Bhatiya and I have written an article for The Fiscal Times examining the potential for carbon taxes on air travel within the U.S. The renewed focus on the atmospheric damage caused by airlines comes on the heels of the announcement that three environmental groups intend to sue the EPA to release an “endangerment finding” regarding CO2 emissions from commercial aircraft.
While air travel is crucial to the nation’s economy, our inability to implement high-speed rail networks similar to those found in Europe and Asia has led to an overreliance on short-haul air travel. We argue that a fee on tickets for these flights–which are more carbon-intensive than long-haul ones–could go a long way toward building high-speed rail and weaning the country off of unnecessary air travel:
If a $15 carbon fee applied to every passenger ticket on a flight less than 400 miles (the Department of Transportation’s definition of “short-haul”), the revenue raised for high-speed rail would exceed $3 billion per year…By these measures, this fee would be a triple win. The EPA would promote economic efficiency and fulfill an important legal requirement without trying to drag the U.S. into a complicated international cap-and-trade framework. The short-haul tax would also set-up an alternative revenue stream for much needed infrastructure investment. And the resulting pivot to high-speed rail would contribute modestly to reducing one source of carbon pollution in the U.S.
Read the entire article.