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Duke Energy to Announce Support for 'Carbon Tax'
April 6, 2005,

Duke Energy, a leading U.S. electricity and gas utility, reportedly will officially announce on April 7 its support for a "carbon tax" -- basically a value-added or consumption tax on gasoline, oil, natural gas and coal.

Duke announced its intention to Congressional staff last week.

The move apparently is the idea of Duke's Australian CEO Paul Anderson. "Every time somebody buys something at the store (they) pay a 10 per cent tax, based on how much carbon was in the fuel that they consumed," Anderson told Australian media in March. But, he says, "You don't just want to add the tax on top of other taxes... if you could say instead of taxing goods and services . . . if instead it was based on how much carbon was in the fuel that they consumed, I think it would be environmentally sound and it would be a revenue neutral kind of action." Anderson said it was important not to create "winners and losers."

Duke apparently prefers the "carbon tax" to the cap-and-trade option supported by some of its competitors. Duke stands to gain little from cap-and-trade since it doesn't have much room for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Consequently, Duke sees an advantage to shifting the debate to a tax rather than a cap, and spread costs to all industries rather than just utilties.

The policy reportedly is the results of an assessment of the alleged risks Duke faces under potential regulation of greenhouse gases and potential global warming policies. Anderson will announce his support for the carbon tax in a speech to be given Thursday, April 7 at 9:00am. A fuller description of the policy will be posted on Duke's web site.

Duke's proposal is an economy-wide tax, not just an industry tax. Duke's proposal supposedly represents a more transparent policy (taxes) than the hidden costs of cap and trade.

Although Duke opposes the Kyoto Protocol-like McCain-Lieberman legislative proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as too radical in terms of emission reductions and economic impact, the company believes that global warming can be addressed by reducing carbon intensity. Developing...

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