Resolved: The United States federal government should adopt a carbon tax.

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Resolved: The United States federal government should adopt a carbon tax.

This isn’t a really interesting topic. The debate is pretty bland, and there isn’t much evidence for either side. It will be difficult to come up with unique positions that people aren’t already prepared for. In any case, let’s see what we can do.


Carbon Tax – A carbon tax is a special tax placed on fossil fuels. Basically, you have to pay taxes when you buy fossil fuels. The intent is to curb carbon emissions by discouraging people from using fossil fuels.

Adopt – Don’t get caught up in the definition of this word. Adopt just means to enact. The resolution is asking whether or not the U.S. federal government should enact such a tax.

Case Positions


1. The Environment – Carbon Tax’s help the environment. Columbia’s tax is a prime example. If you want to reduce carbon emissions and protect our plant, a carbon tax is a great way to do it. Not only that, a carbon tax encourages investment into other green energy technologies.

2. Economic Benefit – A carbon tax helps the economy. It encourages development in new sectors and creates demand for alternative products.


1. Economic Harm – Carbon taxes harm small businesses, and they afford an opportunity for larger companies to take advantage, establishing a more dominant market position.

2. Constitutionality – The carbon tax doesn’t fall under the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution like other taxes. It would be unconstitutional for the U.S. federal government to enact such a tax.

I hope that helps. Good luck!



12 responses to “Resolved: The United States federal government should adopt a carbon tax.

    • Sure. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, of the U.S. Constitution is called the Commerce Clause. It gives Congress the powers it has relating to commerce. This is the clause that was used to justify the establishment of a national bank, income tax, trade tariffs, etc… However, the clause cannot be used to implement a carbon tax as it does not fit within any of the prescribed powers in the clause.

    • No, the elastic clause doesn’t override any of the other clauses. It just says that Congress can do what’s necessary to exercise its enumerated powers. A Carbon Tax is not an exercise of any of Congress’s enumerated powers. It doesn’t regulate interstate commerce, and so is unconstitutional.

  1. Okay so basically for the constitutionality argument you can say that it’s unconstitutional for the the US federal gov to tax carbon because it’s a state right?

    • Well, the point isn’t really that it’s a state right. The point is that it isn’t a federal right. The Constitution doesn’t grant the government the power to institute a carbon tax.

    • The express purpose of those taxes outlined in the first clause is to pay the country’s debts, defend the nation, and provide for the general welfare. It’s difficult to argue that a carbon tax does any of those things.

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