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'Faux' gas tax tests resolve on global warming

Rep. John Dingell says he expects his proposal for a hefty 'carbon tax' on gasoline will prove Americans don't really want to change their energy-rich lifestyle.

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Rep. John Dingell (D) might seem like the last guy to want a big new tax aimed squarely at Americans' gas guzzlers. For more than 50 years in Congress, he's represented southeastern Michigan – home to thousands of US auto workers.

But the Democrats' "dean of the House" is calling for a whopping tax on gasoline and other emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that scientists say causes global warming. Whether he really believes that's the way to address climate change – not to mention keeping his seat in Congress – is another matter.

Representative Dingell admits he's proposing a carbon tax just to prove that Americans don't really want to make big changes in their energy-rich lifestyle. Asked last weekend in a C-SPAN interview whether people would be willing to pay higher prices because of energy legislation, Dingell said he doubted "that the American people are willing to pay what this is really going to cost them."

He continued:

"I will be introducing in the next little bit a carbon tax bill, just to sort of see how people really feel about this. And it will impose, for example, on gasoline a 50-cent tax. It also will place a very substantial tax on CO2 emissions, amounting to a double-digit tax on tons of CO2 emitted. And I think, when you see the criticism I get, you'll understand that you will be getting the answer to your question."

Dingell's carbon tax proposal – whether faux or sincere – has got the blogosphere humming.

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