Boxer briefing

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Will Mother Earth become Martyr Earth? On Valentine’s Day, to avert that prospect, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) introduced legislation to combat global climate change through the tax code. As Raju Chebium of USA Today reported:

Under the proposal, companies would pay $20 per ton of carbon or methane they emit. The tax would increase by 5.6% for each of the next 10 years. Burning coal, oil and gasoline releases carbon. Methane is the byproduct of natural gas, which is cleaner than the other fossil fuels and is coming in wide use across the USA.

Sixty percent of the revenue would go to pay monthly rebates for citizens and legal U.S. residents who are bound to face higher electric bills as utilities pass on the tax to consumers.

The rest would go toward “weatherizing” 1 million homes each year to make them more energy-efficient, increasing renewable-energy supply by setting up new wind- and solar-power projects, and creating a fund to attract private investment for clean-energy development.

Coal, oil, and natural gas producers as well as electrical utilities predictably oppose the measure. And despite his speeches about the dangers of global warming, President Obama looks unlikely to support Boxer’s proposal either. Ben Geman of The Hill reported yesterday:

Jack Lew, the White House nominee for Treasury secretary, says President Obama’s second-term vow to confront climate change will not lead to proposals to tax carbon dioxide emissions.

“The administration has not proposed a carbon tax, nor is it planning to do so,” Lew said in written responses to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which will vote on Lew’s nomination Tuesday.

Carbon taxes or fees are generating new interest among climate advocates and some liberal lawmakers, especially amid debates about how to curb the deficit and overhaul the tax code.

Lew’s answer is the latest of several Obama administration pledges not to propose a carbon tax.

“We would never propose a carbon tax, and have no intention of proposing one,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in mid-November.

Given industry opposition, it’s hardly surprising that energy corporations aren’t at the head of the line to donate to Boxer’s campaigns. Instead, as OpenSecrets.org shows, she receives significant donations from liberal issue donors, tech and media corporations, and lawyers and lobbyists.

Boxer’s top donor, giving over a million dollars since 1989, was EMILY’s List, the political action committee for pro-choice Democratic women. Other prominent, issue-oriented contributors are pro-environmental group the League of Conservation Voters (fourth) and arms control advocates the Council for a Livable World (tenth). The University of California (second) has bestowed over a quarter million on the California Senator; the State of California (seventh) and Stanford University (16th) also made generous donations.

The world’s four largest media corporations appear on Boxer’s list: Time Warner (third) gave over $200,000; Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (sixth) pitched in $122,000; Walt Disney Co. (eighth) gave $95,000; and Viacom (14th) gave $74,000.

Boxer receives more money from lawyers and law firms than any other industry, and several individual firms appear on her top twenty list, most based in her home state. These include class action kings Girardi & Keese (fifth), Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy (ninth), and Milberg LLP (11th); corporate lawyers Latham & Watkins (13th); personal injury lawyers Greene Broillet & Wheeler (15th); and general practice firm O’Melveny & Myers (18th).

Other significant donors to the California Senator are high tech businesses such as San Jose network equipment manufacturers Cisco Systems (12th), San Diego semiconductor makers Qualcomm (17th), and Japanese electronics megafirm Sony (19th). Oakland health care consortium Kaiser Permanente (20th) also made her list.

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