One of the many proposed initiatives to counter greenhouse gas emissions is a carbon tax. But with any tax code, the rules can be threatening and there is always an effort by special interest groups to create loopholes. Or, the money raised from these taxes is poorly distributed. Soon, these well-meaning efforts are little more than paper exchanges with impressive department names but actually have little impact on the problem.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, the founder of Ask Jeeves and a director of a university environmental think tank proposed to tax carbon emissions. Calling the plan a "global cooling tax," the idea is to "hit energy hogs hardest," yet allow consumers to invest tax dollars directly in clean technologies.

Garrett Gruener and Daniel M. Kammen say their plan would make up less than one percent of the $17 trillion U.S. economy. Basically, the plan calls for consumers of fossil-fuel energy to pay the price for getting rid of carbon they generate. But if you generate energy with non-polluting renewable sources, you could sell emissions credits to polluters. Estimates say the average American would pay $555 a year under this plan.

But what to do with the money the taxes generate? Right- and left-wingers would have differing opinions, so the two authors suggest letting the American people decide. The tax money would be credited in individual "energy savings accounts," and taxplayers decide themselves how to reduce emissions or improve the environment. This is the most complicated part of the plan, so it's best to read the story for further details.

[Source: Garrett Gruener & Daniel M. Kammen / Los Angeles Times via Nashua Telegraph]

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