TCI: Taxing the Poor to Benefit the Rich

Reposted from baconsrebellion.com

New Jersey environmental justice advocate Maria Lopez-Nunez, lower left, speaks with organizers of the Transportation and Climate Initiative on September 29. Hear her here.

Posted on November 20, 2020 

By Steve Haner

“I think TCI is just taxing poor people so that we can subsidize rich people’s electric cars.” 

So said New Jersey’s Maria Lopez-Nuñez, Deputy Director, Organizing and Advocacy for the Ironbound Community Corporation. She was speaking during an online seminar September 29 organized by Transportation and Climate Initiative advocates.

That particular comment can be heard at about 3:10 into this recording 

of her speech. The full meeting is recorded here, and her remarks start at about 1hour and 43 minutes in. Listen to her whole speech if you can. Listen to those that follow and you will learn she was not alone.

Lopez-Nunez is dead on correct that TCI imposes a major and very regressive tax to deliver minor reductions in CO2 emissions, and that moving people into electric cars merely moves the source of CO2 emissions from the roads to the power plants.

Run the projected CO2 emissions savings from TCI through the climate change models at the heart of this whole worldwide debate and the result is infinitesimal changes in the feared future temperature increases. Selling this as saving the planet is not credible, so the push is on to find a new rationale. The effort to make that “environmental justice” by targeting the tax money to their causes is not being well received.

Earlier this week, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts indicated he and other governors are reconsidering this new tax and cap scheme for fuels in the middle of a deep recession. The discontent flowing back from the low-income, racial-justice and environmental-justice crowd TCI sought to recruit may also be weighing on their minds.

That is a typical used price. One promoted use of the TCI carbon tax extracted from all gas or diesel purchases would be subsidies for electric cars.

Our Governor Ralph Northam has said nothing about his plans in Virginia, or whether he was one of those Baker was discussing. The Virginia media is not asking. Despite the short time left before the session, the actual memorandum of understanding is still being held secret.

Lopez-Nunez’s comments during the meeting were followed by a formal call from her organization for New Jersey to reject membership in the 12-state compact with its carbon tax on gasoline. Her group’s denunciation was joined by Clean Water Action New Jersey and NJ Environmental Justice Alliance.

Their complaints are spelled out in a release. They state TCI:

  • Fails to mandate pollution reductions. TCI’s reliance on direct and indirect trading is likely to disproportionately impact EJ communities — calling TCI “cap and invest” rather than “cap and trade” doesn’t change that.
  • Proceeds are not put in a lock box. There is no guarantee that funds collected will benefit climate initiatives and EJ communities. History is almost certain to repeat itself regardless of who is in office.Billions of dollars of “dedicated” funds have been raided from NJ programs like NJ Transit, Clean Energy, lead mitigation, and more for unintended purposes.
  • Commitment to “transparency” and “equity” rings hollow and has, in the past, failed to create a meaningful decision making role for EJ voices.
  • Imposes a regressive gas tax fee structure, not a true polluter-pay mechanism. Despite recent increases to the gas tax and tolls, the cost will be passed on to those that can least afford a tax hike or an electric car, instead of making companies pay for their pollution and contribution to climate change.
  • Better solutions exist. Federal and state regulatory and financial authority is already substantial and more effective.

“TCI to date has been tone deaf at best and racist at worst,” Lopez-Nunez is quoted in the release. “The world is on fire and we need bold, visionary solutions that center those most directly impacted to build a just society. We will not settle for half measures that uphold decades of bad policy development in the way TCI has.”

The 2021 Virginia General Assembly will be asked to authorize Virginia’s membership in TCI. It should be done in legislation, but there is a chance the Northam Administration will try to sneak it through with budget language. The basic workings of the compact have been explained before and will be again, but many details are still shrouded in that missing MOU. Will we see it before or after the legislators are asked to vote?

The first carbon tax to be imposed on Virginians, part of a similar interstate compact known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, will add about 2% to electric bills starting next summer. Early information from TCI has mentioned that the carbon allowance will add about 17 cents per gallon to the price of gasoline (about an 8% increase), but its own internal documents point to a first year cost more like 20 cents per gallon, growing to more than 30 cents by 2032. A review requested by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy projected 33 cents per gallon.

The proposed 25-percent reduction in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels will be accomplished not by the tax, but by a cap on the sale of gasoline and diesel fuel within the Maine to Virginia region. The number of allowances available under the cap to fuel wholesalers will slowly shrink. With a market move already underway to electric or hybrid vehicles, much of the goal will be achieved without this regime.

59 thoughts on “TCI: Taxing the Poor to Benefit the Rich

  1. “The world is on fire……..” I looked out my window, it isnt.

    By world, do the mean Earth? all indications are that these people are on another planet.

    • ““The world is on fire ….” No, it isn’t. That’s those western fires and they’re not in the news any more.

      I wish people like that would stop their exaggerations. They are ridiculous and make it impossible to take them seriously. But Lopez-Nunez is correct: those taxes are hitting the people who can least afford them and will do nothing to help anyone other than politicians.

      • There is a purpose in exaggeration beyond propaganda. When you predict the end of the world, then any level of collateral damage is acceptable, even from unworkable solutions.

        If the world is not going to end, you have to provide solutions that will do more good than harm. When people restrict climate solutions to those that are inadequate in a modern economy, they don’t want to have to defend the indefensible.

        • And when the world doesn’t end, which it won’t regardless of what anyone does, they will claim credit and expect to be rewarded in some form or fashion.

  2. The UK’s “Conservative” government have declared by edict that it will be illegal to buy new ICE cars and vans after 2030. This is supposed to lead to everyone driving electric cars, but a little analysis leads one to the conclusion that the majority will be priced out of their vehicles entirely.

    After the automobile revolution began, the number of vehicles increased over many decades. As more and more individuals aspired to own cars, they found a handy second hand market that grew organically over time. If instead, the government “flips a switch” and changes the market where this is an abundance of ICE vehicles of all ages but only a tiny number of electric only, buyers will look in vain for second hand EVs. The government gets this, and are simultaneously trying to sell walking and cycling as somehow “a more attractive alternative.” Well, good luck with that.

    • Hmmmm…. cycling to the train station in a blizzard, just to get to work: does not seem like a plan to me, and neither does walking to the train station in that kind of weather.

      These political animals are biting the hands that feed them. They should know better, but all they see is $$$$$ in their own pockets.

    • It would be interesting to see the number of cyclist KSI’s over the last few years. (KSI = Killed or seriously injured). Those promoting cycling probably don’t want to publish the numbers I suspect.

      • In my case, three significant crashes:
        1. Mechanical failure on the bike, over the handlebars onto the tarmac. Broken rib and AC (shoulder) joint separation.
        2. Car crossed in front of me, then stopped, so I hit his car with my (same, dammit) shoulder. Not so bad this time physically but bike wrecked.
        3. Chap in stationary queue of traffic decides to bail out and do a u-turn , just as I’m passing. Whatever happened to the ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ routine? Smack into the side of his SUV which was not flimsy. Ouch. Major gouge in elbow and broken rib. Bike fixable this time.
        Most cycle commuters of a similar age (60+) I know have a similar tale. But…
        My fitness was probably a major factor in my survival of a heart attack earlier this year.
        You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.

    • I just hope that the auto companies will be ramping up production ready for the surge in demand in 2029 for real cars.

    • “…buyers will look in vain for second hand EVs.” Don’t worry, there won’t be a second hand market. Rechargeable batteries have life spam. Replacing the battery is a major cost.

  3. Tone deaf and/or racist. Not transparent. Inequitable. Ineffective. Unfair. Regressive. Can’t see why there’s not more demand for this. (Never) Great (Again) Britain seem to be embracing it fully.

  4. It’s about time the US gets with the program. In the Netherlands 3/4 of energy cost to consumers is taxes already. And the idiocy is growing and speeding up. Can miserable poverty be the actual goal?

  5. And in Massachusetts….
    “Earlier this week, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts indicated he and other governors are reconsidering this new tax and cap scheme”
    The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has been responsible for electric prices zooming up ~50%-70% since it got underway around 2014. Just last week, representatives of the electric utilities went door-to-door across the state informing one and all that another 28% rate hike has been approved and will be going into effect soon.
    Back of the envelope: 150% * 28% = 192%. Prices will be just about double from 2014, and RGGI is still building up steam. More rate hikes are in the offing as RGGI continues. This is all impossible to change. RGGI can not be scaled back or limited in any way. To do so, the political class would be admitting they made a mistake and the critics were right. This can *never* happen. The political class will never admit to a mistake. Besides, their cronies are getting rich.
    In other news:
    The MBTA has announced major cutbacks in regional public transportation.
    Now we have the TCI, which is nothing more than a gas tax dressed up with all kinds of Xyz-Justice dogma.
    So the current situation is:
    1) RGGI puts MA in the running for highest electric prices in the nation.
    2) Regional mass transit has been cut back hard.
    3) TCI, a new gas tax is in the offing.

    What do they want, we should all get a horse?????

  6. Maria Lopez-Nuñez certainly had a rational point there. I then tried to listen to segments of the full meeting – it was nail-biting frustrating and brought my memories of my 1974 visit to East Berlin.
    In East Berlin, the socialist ruling had turned a city, which used to be cultural and happy center of Europe, into a ghost town. No smiling faces, children in rags, houses still full of bullet holes from the Second World War and trams occupied by only the driver. Empty museums, apart from a single museum inspector and four soldiers parading outside.
    We are accelerating towards East Berlin if freedom to promote decedent view on equal terms are rejected by the woke and the socialist elite.
    The Greens disconnect between academic virtual city slicker egotism and traditional values, comfort, reality and genuine quality of life is mind blowing.

  7. Back in the 2010-ish years the Swiss communist party (yes, it exists !) tossed around their manifesto which was said to be copy-paste inspired from the German trend.

    It clearly stated that population should be kept in concentrated energy efficient mega structures where work commutes are kept to the strict minimum. Individual mobility was eliminated idem as private property of any kind.

    Suburbia was dozered and agriculture unaccounted for.

    There is a trend.

    The right to repair is vanishing. Most electric or hybrid cars are connected to the mother ship and it’s not entirely clear if one owns or merely leases them.

    Furthermore you can’t store electricity in convenient jerrycans. One more way to control who moves and where.

    Recent cases of VW electric models are troubling. COVID helping, several owners had them in their garages for many days. Resulting in strange error messages when the cars were solicited.

    The hotline offered 2 alternatives. Wait for a technician or self help. That self help consisted of signing each page, scanning and returning of a 7 pages non-disclosure PDF document.

    Then users received instructions on how to turn their car app and unblock the car for 15 minutes then drive it outside where the GPS could get a stable fix. The car would resume normal operation afterwards.

    Was that a glitch concerning a minority of cars, an experimental attempt to enforce COVID mobility restrictions or plain bug matters little.

    The big picture is that they (whoever this might be) are able to remotely immobilize or geofence your car.

  8. As far as UK goes and the 2030 ‘ban’…..

    Do we need a referendum here or a new election?
    Because Boris was elected on the mandate that he was going to sort out Brexit – not that he was going to drop this hideousostisity. Brought 10 years forward from its original inception.

    And where exactly does Princess Nut Nuts stand here, ‘Sleeping With The Enemy’? ‘A Spy in Our Midst’?

    That Boris has proven to be such a ‘cnut-struck wimp’ (ala Paul McCartney with that one-legged gold digger wots-her-name), he’s got to go.

    Is (Mull of) Kintyre far enough away? haha
    Maybe not but certainly windy enough for Boris’ hair *and* a few windymills
    Good Money says she doesn’t follow him

    Oh. Money.
    Bank of England has printed way-enough moolaah to get him a golden parachute landing and a cozy nest when he gets there tho

  9. Poor/middle class have more votes than rich people. There must be some level that increased costs and energy unreliability trigger a voter revolt.

    Gasoline prices are an emotional issue in the US. We have lived with low $2/gal prices for several years. There are some states as high tax California where the price is higher ($3/gal). I predict a pricing threshold of $5/gal when voters will get very irritated and look for new leaders to keep fuel costs down.

    • I seem to recall gas getting close to $5/gallon when I moved from CA to NC in 2008.

      I think it’s a lot higher in UK. So far, everybody seems to be accepting it.

    • “Poor/middle class have more votes than rich people.”

      But the rich get to choose who the poor are allowed to vote for. And who gets to count the votes.

  10. California banned 2-cycle gas powered leaf blowers several years ago, they are ubiquitous here and emit more pollution than a Ford F-150 idling in gridlocked traffic for several hours. But the law is not enforced, they are still running all day long and everywhere. (Californians love having gardeners.) Similarly, convicted felons and even those merely accused of domestic violence are required to identify the firearms they own and to turn them in or have them confiscated. With the aid of third parties like family members, the firearms and their locations usually are identified. But if not turned in, virtually none ever is confiscated. So do CA officials really care about pollution or guns on the streets? There is literally no practical evidence that any of these restrictive laws really is about what it is said to be about. You don’t need a tinfoil hat to think that the goal behind these laws is something entirely different than that stated.

  11. Yes, when you charge your EV, that power was generated, most likely (in the USA) by a small plant burning natural gas. Still some coal plants here. A few atomic generators. Hydro. Scattered windmill farms. The absolutely beautiful Ivanpah Solar Power Facility south of Las Vegas.

    But a fantastically designed EV like a Tesla uses less energy per mile driven because of the efficiency of both a large-scale gen plant plus electric motor on the car. Gas car engines are inefficient. (imagine all the heat thrown off by all the cars in all the world today!)

    EVs are simple…no gas tank (battery packs are becoming part of the structure) no cooling liquids/pumps, no oil circulation, much more …

    They are quiet. This is no small thing. Imagine a city with no noise from gas engines.

    Teslas are already the safest cars on the road, and that will ratchet up collectiviely.

    They are fast, and very much fun.

    Elon will make them purchase-price cometitive, and that will be the end of that.

    • We’ve been hearing that for years. Tell Elon to make a cost-competitive vehicle without gov’t subsidies. And for the kiddies out there, yes, federal subsidies may have finally expired but the lovely state of CA forces Musk’s competitors to buy ZEV credits from him. This is a modern day indulgence, and it’s the only reason tesla is “profitable.”

    • Did you know that (unless the muffler is faulty) much of the noise from highway traffic is the from the tires/road contact?
      Aside from that, the rest of what you said is wishful/I-hope-it-will-come-true-someday thinking.

      • The noise from highway traffic (IE the noise that you might hear while standing outside near the road), quite likely. The noise *inside* the vehicle, however, is a different story. I’ve been in ICE cars all my life. Everyone of them has a certain level of noise from the engine that is quite audible inside the car’s cabin (some more than others. My cousin’s old firebird was the worst car I’ve ever been in for engine noise). The few EVs I’ve been are noticeably lacking in that noise level.

    • It really is amazing how some people are willing to believe any lie, so long as it advances the ideology they favor.

      First off, Ivanpah has been shut down for several years. It doesn’t work, never worked, and never could have worked.

      Secondly, when you add up all the inefficiencies in getting electric power from the plant to the tire, the so called efficient EV isn’t.

      So what if EV’s are simple. So are you, that doesn’t make you any more desirable.

      The claim that EVs are quieter than ICE has been refuted over and over again. However those who have wedded themselves to the all electric ideology just can’t be bothered with something as trivial as reality.

      Where did you get the insane notion that Tesla’s are inherently safer that other cars? Were you paid to lie, or did you just make that one up yourself.

      I love he way the acolytes are convinced that somehow St. Elon will one of these days manage to make his care company actually work. Heck, he can’t even get it to make a profit after years of trying.

      • First off, Ivanpah has been shut down for several years.

        Um, not really. Back in 2016 there was a fire that shut down one of the three units for repairs, at the time another of the units was already off-line for schedules maintenance, leaving just one unit operational. But all three units were back in operation a month or two later.

        It doesn’t work, never worked, and never could have worked.

        Indeed. While technically it works a little (it does generate some electricity when the sun is shining, just not enough to justify it’s existence vs the cost of building and maintaining it) it fails to work as advertised, routinely failing to generate it’s contractually required amount of power.

      • Heck, he can’t even get it to make a profit after years of trying.

        well, not quite true. Tesla finally posted an annual profit for the very first time in 2019 using the operating basis followed by most analysts and investors. That left it with a narrow $35.8 million profit for the year.

        That said, when considering the full company accounts, Tesla actually posted a loss for the whole year. In other words, they profitably managed to flip cars (took in more selling cars then spent making them) but are still spending buttloads of money elsewhere (such as on building new gigafactories and other expansion costs).

        It’s like winning a battle (technically posting a profit) but still losing the war (spending more in total than it brings in).

    • (imagine all the heat thrown off by all the cars in all the world today!) Here in the North (U.S) I put that Heat to good use. Tesla uses what as a heating system? Don’t tell me it’s heat from the battery.

      • As far as I can tell, it uses an electric powered heater – it uses up a good of power from the battery, causing the range of the car to drop considerably as a result of using the heater in the winter months.

    • Mr Sun,

      large generating plants are not that efficient. The best are combined cycle gas Turbines at about 60%, if they are running at peak efficiency, if they are ramping up and down chasing load balance of the grid it will be less. (like driving a car on twisty roads, on and off the throttle). Next there are the transmission losses, fairly small, larger losses at distribution level. Losses in rectifying the AC power to charge the battery, losses to invert the battery D.C. to A.C. for the power train, losses in the motor controller to operate the motor.
      I don’t think that there is much is any difference in miles travelled to fuel input.

  12. If we have to go to horses we know where to sent the manure for them to use to heat their mansions. Since this tax (RGGI) is full of manure. Now since HERR WOLF wants to join RGGI in spite of the people and legislature are against it.

  13. The idea of “making companies pay for their pollution and contribution to climate change” reflects the shallow thinking of greenies. The net results are simply reduced returns to shareholders and increased prices to the consumer. Governments love this strategy because it provides indirect revenue that voters don’t see and allows price increases to be blamed on “greedy” corporations.

  14. Yes, left-wing ideology is invariably, inevitably a system to benefit a minority to consolidate capital and control and enable redistributive, often retributive, change.

  15. Boris and other European leaders seem to have forgotten that their countries, particularly main cities, are old and many homes were built long before personal vehicles existed. Hence they are often terraced with no off road access to park a car. This is the case in even the most expensive of suburbs with Chelsea and Knightsbridge in London as examples.
    How will people charge their EVs at night so they can commute in the day – run thousands of power cables across the footpaths of the country? Does Boris even know that most of the EVs he dictates must be owned will be fossil fuelled through the electricity network anyway.

    • The inability for many people to charge an EV is a feature, not a flaw. The intent is to remove as many vehicles from the road as possible, without stirring up a revolt by simply banning them.

      • Notice how for the most part the more efficient a passenger vehicle is, the smaller the fuel tank is? Can’t have people with a vehicle that can travel an extra-ordinarily long distance between refills.

        Why don’t scooters that get 80+ MPG have a 2 gallon tank instead of a quart, or less?

        Vehicle manufacturers and oil companies want most of the people hitting the gas stations as often as possible, even if they spend less each time.

        • A scooter than gets 80+MPG with a tank of a quart or less would not get 80+ MPG with a 2 gallon tank. The extra weight of all that added fuel will cause your MPG rating to drop. The larger the weight, the more energy required to move it.

          One of the tricks of getting a more fuel efficient vehicle is to lower the weight of the vehicle, and one of the many ways of doing that it to carry around less fuel weight. Nothing nefarious about it, just simple physics.

        • Can’t have people with a vehicle that can travel an extra-ordinarily long distance between refills.

          It’s called a turbo diesel. The VW passenger ones can go over 800 miles on a tank

  16. With a market move already underway to electric or hybrid vehicles, much of the goal will be achieved without this regime.

    Then why do you need it? And is the market really moving, or is the regime making it move? Rhetorical question because we all know the answer.

  17. “I think TCI is just taxing poor people so that we can subsidize rich people’s electric cars.”

    Not too far from the truth. In Australia, “poor” people (Those that can’t afford a house that has a roof to install solar) usually live/rent in unit blocks (Apartments) and are not allowed to install solar panels anywhere. However, a component of their power bills, like mine, and taxes (Income taxes and state taxes like rates added to rent) go to subsidise those that can afford a house with a roof to install solar. So yes, as usual, the poor subsidies the rich.

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