To the editor:
A recent letter in the Herald Journal caught my eye. It mentioned the Clean the Air Carbon Tax Act Ballot Initiative. This initiative confuses me. I read a summary of the following facts at standupeconomist.com.
1. 80% of carbon tax revenue to reduce existing taxes (sales tax on groceries/electricity/heating fuels).
2. 20% of carbon tax revenue to clean up local air pollution and fund rural economic development.
Where’s this money coming from ?
Consumers would pay a tax on fuel that comes from coal. Burning coal emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. It’s seen as dirtier than natural gas and wind/solar. This tax would start at $11 per metric ton of carbon dioxide (about 10 cents per gallon of gasoline and about 0.8 cents per kilowatt of electricity), beginning in 2022 and increase every year at 3.5% plus inflation.
Most of this tax revenue would go into a Carbon Emissions Fund. This revenue would:
1. Transfer money to the state’s General Fund to cover the lost revenue from eliminating state sales tax on groceries/electricity/heating fuels.
2. Transfer money to the Education Fund to cover the lost revenue from not getting specific federal matching funds.
3. Every year spend $75 million on improving air quality for school buses, industrial vehicles, and lawn equipment and $25 million on rural development through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Will the carbon tax clean the air from nearby forest fires or change the geographic "bowl" here which is prone to inversions? Will the tax help coal miners find new jobs? Will it be the middle class paying for this carbon tax since they don’t qualify for subsidies?
It sounds confusing and unfair.
Rather than passing more taxes and rules, what could the state do to encourage the use of non-fossil fuels for heating and electricity, non-gasoline vehicles to drive, and non-air polluting practices in industry ?
Should we all go vegetarian? Cattle stockyards emit methane, another greenhouse gas. Timeforchange.org states an average cow releases 70-120 kg of methane a year. The negative effect of methane on the climate is 25 times worse than the effect of carbon dioxide.
Landfill gases are both methane and carbon dioxide. Some landfills are required to capture the methane, which can be burned as fuel! Could we heat homes with it?
There are many ways of reducing greenhouse gases that include many areas of our lives. I would advocate going to all of these sources of emissions and figure ways to use them for our benefit rather than targeting just one industry and laying taxes on them. Where’s the fairness in that?