Letter: Climate tax a moral obligation | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Climate tax a moral obligation

This letter is in response to Ron Kokish’s letter on March 14. On behalf of myself (I can’t speak for other town trustees), I would like to respond to his thoughts and questions.

It is commendable that Ron has invested in solar panels through Clean Energy Collective — he is one of I think seven Carbondale residents to have done so. I do not want him to feel punished for paying into the Climate Action fund for Carbondale when he is already paying for solar panels elsewhere. I have thought of this issue as it affects my family as we have had a solar system on our house since 2007 that provides roughly 60 percent of our electric. The trustees did discuss exempting Clean Energy Collective customers, and I plan to explore this option as we develop the details of the energy efficiency, renewable energy and alternative transportation programs.

As to his concern for Carbondale’s low-income folks, we have discussed that matter at length, since we too were concerned about what effect this might have. Because of that, there is language outlined in the ordinance that indicates that funds should be dedicated to programs to support low-income residents. “Whereas tax revenues would be collected by the town, and subsequently applied by the Board of Trustees, in its discretion, to implement programs to increase energy efficiency, increase renewable energy use, reduce emissions from motor vehicles, and take other steps toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing global warming, with special attention initially to low income households.”

This ordinance is on the Town of Carbondale’s website, on the homepage, under “2016 Ordinances and Procedures.”

For the past year, the Town of Carbondale has invested in programs to support free energy upgrades for income-qualified residents. By having a local program funded by us, implementers have been able to leverage significant funding from Energy Outreach Colorado and the utility companies. This leveraged funding is not available without local funding.

In 2015, we were able to assist 18 Carbondale residents by providing free energy upgrades, such as furnace tune-ups, efficient water heaters, refrigerators and lighting. We’ve helped a number of residents resolve emergency heating and hot water crises and they have equated participating in the program with winning the lottery. With additional funding through Measure 2A, we would aim to increase the program by more than four times. After receiving upgrades, low-income residents will be saving on their utility bills every year, by a much greater amount than what they would be spending on the Climate Action Tax.

Remember also that the effects of climate change, if allowed to manifest, will impact everyone but will disproportionately impact those with lesser means. Heck, it’s already starting. Just look at North Africa. This is an investment in our kids’ and grandkids’ futures and we have a moral obligation to move forward and do what we can. No regrets, no coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Frosty Merriott

Carbondale


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