Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk made a libertarian argument in favor of a carbon tax during a recent visit to Nevada. Musk, who spoke with reporters for about an hour during a visit to the company’s battery factory in Storey County on Tuesday, answered a question about tax breaks the company got for moving to Nevada. He also addressed tax incentives for sustainable energy products such as solar panels and electric vehicles (EVs).
Here’s a transcript of the portion of the conversation in which Musk made a libertarian argument in favor of a carbon tax. His remarks on the Nevada tax breaks were covered in a previous post.
Reporter: You are building this factory with more than a billion dollars in state incentives. Solar panels get big tax subsidies, cars get by with a lot of subsidies as well. Will these businesses ever be sustainable without these kind of subsidies?
Elon Musk: With respect to some of the other elements for solar panels and EVs, the big issue we have is that in reality if you accept the scientific consensus every oil burning activity is subsidized, dramatically. If you believe there is a value to the CO2 capacity of the atmosphere and oceans and that CO2 capacity is not being paid for by the price at the gas pump or the coal that is being burned for electricity generation or whatever its use may be then every single fossil fuel burning activity is massively subsidized.
This has become sort of an ideological issue because there are people who think that global warming is not true. So if you believe it is not true then it is a subsidy for sustainable energy. If you believe it is true then all we are doing is trying to match the inherent subsidy for fossil fuels, match that on the sustainable energy side.
That is all it is doing. It is not one is getting a subsidy and the other one isn’t. Fossil fuels are already getting a massive subsidy if you believe in global warming. If you don’t then it seems really unfair. If you do then it is like oh we are just trying to correct it.