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Paying the Carbon Charge

Professor Michael O'Hare came up with an intriguing concept to deal with the use of fossil fuels to develop ethanol. A common criticism of the alternative fuel is the continued use of these non-renewable resources in its creation: gasoline to power the tractors; coal to power the ethanol plants; and even using chemicals that damage the soil to grow the crops. The U.C. Berkeley professor describes the complex subsidies and import taxes currently surrounding the ethanol industry that make it virtually impossible to develop less damaging methods to the environment.
His suggestion is a "carbon charge" which is applied any time fossil fuels are used in the ethanol production process. He's careful not to call it a "tax" since its not designed to generate monies. Instead, consumers would not only see the true cost of using fossil fuels (gas prices, for example, would increase) but the monies could actually be returned to them via a refund check or even added to their Social Security funds.

What do you think of O'Hare's concept?

[Source: San Francisco Chronicle]

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