- Parabolic Arc
- June 2, 2023
Congressman Blumenauer Proposes Carbon Tax on Human Space Launches
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Earl Blumenauer PR) – As the space tourism race continues today, U.S. Rep Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, previewed a new space tax. The Securing Protections Against Carbon Emissions (SPACE) Tax Act would create new excise taxes on commercial space flights carrying human passengers for purposes other than scientific research.
“Space exploration isn’t a tax-free holiday for the wealthy. Just as normal Americans pay taxes when they buy airline tickets, billionaires who fly into space to produce nothing of scientific value should do the same, and then some,” said Blumenauer. “I’m not opposed to this type of space innovation. However, things that are done purely for tourism or entertainment, and that don’t have a scientific purpose, should in turn support the public good.”
As this budding space tourism industry takes shape, Blumenauer is particularly concerned about the environmental impact of sending humans into space, particularly when there is no scientific value associated with the launch. The number of trips to space are expected to increase, with Virgin Galactic planning to eventually launch a shuttle of passengers into space, on average, every 32 hours.
While proponents of suborbital space flights point to transatlantic flights as having similar carbon footprints, these flights carry significantly more passengers and travel much farther. The result is space launches accounting for an estimated 60-times greater emissions than transatlantic flights on a per-passenger basis, enough to drive a car around the earth and more than twice the carbon budget recommended in the Paris Climate Agreement.
Researchers are also actively exploring the impact of space launches on accelerating the depletion of stratospheric ozone, which is orders of magnitude greater for rocket engines using alumina-producing solid rocket fuel or black soot-producing kerosene.
Blumenauer envisions the SPACE Tax Act to include a per-passenger tax on the price of a commercial flight to space, like that for commercial aviation.
It would also include a two-tiered excise tax for each launch into space. The first tier would apply to suborbital flights exceeding 50 miles above the Earth’s surface but not exceeding 80 miles above the Earth’s surface. The second tier, which would levy a significantly higher excise tax, would apply for orbital flights exceeding 80 miles above the Earth’s surface.
Exemptions would be made available for NASA spaceflights for scientific research purposes. In the case of flights where some passengers are working on behalf of NASA for scientific research purposes and others are not, the launch excise tax shall be the pro rata share of the non-NASA researchers.
7 responses to “Congressman Blumenauer Proposes Carbon Tax on Human Space Launches”
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Nothing but grand standing, the enemies of progress never stop trying to drag humanity back to the Stone Age.
Uhh, I don’t think so. Show some math.
This feels like grandstanding. He’s also said he won’t introduce the bill for a “couple of weeks” while he consults with experts, and from there it’s a pretty huge hurdle to actually getting it passed.
It’s mostly a bad idea, with one possible exception: if it goes towards funding the FAA. If the FAA has a vested financial interest in space launches with passengers, then they’ll probably be much more supportive.
“I’m not opposed to this type of space innovation. However, things that
are done purely for tourism or entertainment, and that don’t have a
scientific purpose, should in turn support the public good.”
As one of the ‘things,’ I’m sure this language will send cruise ship operators (who have problems enough) that burn heavy fuel oil for many days at a time, screaming to their lobbyists in no time…or finding a way to pretend to be ‘research’ vessels.
He’s a Democrat. Taxation is instinctual with that species.
SLS delenda est