Monday, May 8, 2017

OPINION

What is right (and wrong) with Citizens Climate Alliance.

I was thankful knowing that citizens were there to stand in the gap at last week’s Citizens Climate Alliance rally in Richland, Washington.  I do not, however, understand why they would want the proceeds from a carbon tax to be returned to the citizens directly. That is a nice gesture, but it might actually worsen the problems it is intended to resolve, assuming the intent is to move us toward a greener future.

It seems to me that adding the carbon tax, in and of itself, would to nothing to ensure that the companies generating carbon would actually pay to clean up their mess without the enlarging of existing government programs. To ensure that industry would pay for its own environmental cleanup would probably require establishment of yet other government agencies, or increased funding of the DEQ.. Sadly, environmental programs, up to and including the EPA are on the Trump administration’s chopping block.

Instead of handing out the money willy nilly  in hopes that people would use it for greener options, I would like the funds to be used to mitigate against global warming, climate change, and worsening health problems that are  due to pollution. Industries must be responsible for the environmental issues they create.

As I see it, handing out money would just trigger consumerism, which is to say it would trigger increased carbon loading. The likely result: A vicious cycle of consuming, polluting, increasing health care costs, and working-for-less while paying more for health. We already live under a very leaky insurance umbrella. Not all are covered and even more are likely to remain without coverage in the future. So this is a cycle we want to try to break. The cycle will not be broken, in my estimation, by transferring money from (oil and coal?) companies to consumers who are just  dying to spend it.

Carbon tax and the larger problem — The need for a carbon tax is not a stand-alone affair, but is tied to a larger problem of all kinds of industrial releases: the dangerous waste contaminating our air, food and water.

Help is unlikely to come from the Trump administration, which seems bent on unleashing industry from government restraints. Even if presently existing government agencies were charged with cleaning up after failed pipelines, coal waste, chemical company releases to the environment and more, it seems doubtful they would have the funds to do so. Nor is there any guarantee that a carbon tax would produce enough money to cover increased environmental and cleanup costs, including the cost of climate change, let alone related medical costs. (Exposure to chemicals in the air, soil and water are major suspects in certain ongoing health epidemics.)

Whether applied to the state of Washington only, or to the entire nation, a carbon tax as envisioned by the local rally Citizens Climate Alliance would likely cause carbon output to increase rather than to diminish, or so it seems to me.

My recommendation to the Citizens’ Climate Alliance is this: "Please use any carbon tax money to encourage green power, sustainable industries, efficient transportation, and a green future,” rather than handing it out to citizens who would have no option other than to spend it on daily living costs and, sigh, higher fuel prices.

Rather than handing out money to the poor — and to everyone else — please pass a high minimum wage.

The winners and the losers — Unfortunately, the poor might eventually bear the brunt of the CCA plan. I agree that "reflecting the true price of fossil fuels in their costs” is attractive. One problem with this idea, however, is that it amounts to a regressive tax in disguise.  I  say so because, relatively richer people will most likely to continue flying in jets, going on pleasure cruises, building ever bigger castles and vacations, and driving gas fueled vehicles, although they may grumble about the higher cost of gas. At the same time, transportation to and from work may well become unaffordable to the working class poor, and there is no guarantee that advances in alternative energy will be sufficient to offset that increased fuel prices incurred by the tax.

Relatively wealthy individuals would face only minor inconvenience, while the poor would struggle to afford a ride to work. The Citizens Climate Alliance’s plan (at least as I understand it) attempts to “fix”  a carbon problem by furtively shifting it to  the backs of citizens of  lower income.

The bottom line and the largest polluter of all — I would advocate that any carbon tax money should be put to work developing cleaner, better, and more available public  transportation.Or put it into research and development for sustainable energy. Additionally, some of it could be used to monitor and regulate the individuals and industries most likely to harm the environment via emissions.

I also think we need to make a distinction between those who pollute as the natural consequence of being a living thing on earth, versus those who profit by polluting, and sometimes profit enormously, passing the price on to consumers who have little or no choice but to go along for “the ride.”

Lastly, if you really want to cut back on world pollution, put an end to all wars that are not defensive in nature.  The war industry is undoubtedly one of the largest polluters of all.

Please comment below: Tell me what you think. Thanks.


Frank Ellsworth Lockwood,  is a hustler for Green Party US and holds an MS in education from Eastern Oregon University, taught in Oregon Public Schools for about 13.5 years.  He additionally worked for several years as a newspaper reporter for The Hermiston Herald, winning nine statewide awards for journalism during that time. 

#carbontax #citizensclimatealliance #opinion #greenpartyus

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