In disputes, there is often a way for both sides to succeed, as long as people are willing to take the time to understand other perspectives and priorities. In the context of North American environmentalists and energy companies, the situation can seem irreconcilable, yet both want high gas prices.
Cheap imports, often from countries with poor human rights records and weak environmental protections, are keeping prices down. Local gas prices are now so low that any existing carbon tax plan ($0.12/litre) wouldn’t even bring prices up to a sustainable level for the energy sector, while reducing the benefits of electrification.
At the same time, we are realizing the risks of global supply chains, especially for medical supplies and food. We should take the opportunity to also protect our access to energy. It is foundational to everything we do, so we should take steps to limit our vulnerability to global manipulations.
Disincentivizing Oil Imports
By disincentivizing imports, we can still wind down our fossil fuel consumption, as the environmentalists want; while protecting all local energy producers from the economic warfare of adversarial entities. Relying on a blanket carbon tax, to keep prices high, harms local production while doing nothing to ensure stability for consumers.
As with alcohol in many regions, we could set a price minimum sustainable for local producers. Price minimums would be less jarring, and doesn’t technically block external suppliers.
While more blatantly protectionist, energy security concerns are hard to dispute. Much like carbon tax attempts to account for pollution, we could also try to attach a cost to human rights abuses. In any case, there are plenty of valid justifications to attach fees to imported oil.
What other factors am I missing or is there anything I should expand?