If I were required to pay for this cost, I probably can no longer compete.
Well, you’re heading for the “carbon tax” notion now, which conservatives like much more than that BS the Obama administration tried back in 2009–10.
Sure, an existing coal-fired power plant has the advantage of already being built. However, if efficiency is improved, the cost of building the solar plant (or wind, or geothermal, or whatever) drops substantially. In short, your “cost externialities” objection simply slows the movement to renewables, rather than preventing the movement altogether.
That all said, I don’t have have any substantive objection to “cleanup taxes”; we pay them when we get the oil changed in our cars, after all. I would just want them to be carefully set, so that they don’t impact employment over the short term.
In the market there is no actor representing the interests of the public at large.
That’s true, BUT…….you may have some trouble defining what those “interests” are with specificity. Clearly, by your use of the term “disastrous”, you take the position of a subset of the population that believes that everything that can be done now must be done, and hang the cost or impact.
Not everyone is going to take that position. Those of us who are over 50 and who remember when the air and water were many MANY times shittier than they are today. We look around us today and see a pristine environment, in comparison to our youth; so, obviously, there are other “subsets” of the population that must be consulted before one can say with authority what the “interests of the public” actually are.
Being against this in principle is a defense of pushing cost externalities onto the public.
Without objection. I would just point out, as I mentioned above, that the rate of the tax should reflect the actual cost of cleanup, and not be used as a whip to force change at a faster rate than it would organically occur.