By Kathryn Blume, Charlotte resident
Customers of one of Vermont’s purveyors of fossil fuels might have recently received a message from their dealer asking them to oppose current efforts in the Statehouse to put a price on carbon pollution–otherwise known as a carbon pollution tax.
Despite the carbon pollution tax being supported by over 200 businesses, the argument articulated by the dealers is that the legislation will increase customers’ out-of-pocket expenses for fuel, and based on that one concern alone, should be vehemently opposed.
What the fuel dealers aren’t saying about the plan is that the legislation is designed to use some of the revenue from the pollution tax to create an Energy Independence Fund that will help Vermonters weatherize their homes and make other investments to cut their energy bills and reduce the use of fossil fuels.
This plan will save Vermonters hundreds of millions of dollars that they’d otherwise be spending on energy, help Vermont achieve its ambitious energy and carbon reduction goals, as well as allow us to make substantial cuts to other taxes Vermonters currently pay.
The non-partisan firm Regional Economic Models Inc., has done economic modeling on this proposal and concluded that putting a price on carbon pollution will not only slash toxic emissions, it will also help grow Vermont’s economy and create good-paying jobs.
Additionally, experts from across the political spectrum—from Paul Krugman and President Bush’s former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to the World Bank and the Wall Street Journal—firmly advocate putting a price on carbon pollution because it harnesses market-based mechanisms to both cut pollution, address climate change, and support the economy.
British Columbia has had a revenue-neutral carbon tax in place since 2008, and it’s been deemed a tremendously successful and viable program, with per-person consumption of fossil fuels dropping by 16 percent, while still allowing BC’s economy to keep pace with the rest of the country.
Of course the fuel dealers feel threatened by a tax on carbon pollution. But the reality is that their entire business model is based on the use of an outmoded and dangerous substance, and we have both a financial need and a moral obligation to help them—and ourselves—transition to a cleaner, more sustainable way of powering our lives.
Kathryn Blume is the board chair of 350VT and executive director of the community climate game Vermontivate!