LETTER: Fee needed on all carbon-based fuels
Kudos to Lisa McKenzie and Dr. John Hughes for their ongoing investigation of public health impacts from gas drilling in Garfield County. The fact that studies funded by the state of Colorado have not yet made a conclusive link between environmental decline and human health should not hinder our good common sense. Let’s not forget, after all, that officials took years to accept conclusive evidence of the poisoning that sickened the people of Love Canal.
The state of Colorado might have a better chance to protect its citizens if the social dangers inherent in fossil fuel extraction were accounted for in the price of the resource. In classical, capitalist economics, this is called internalizing the externalities, and it’s a fundamental tenant of conservative, free-market wisdom.
One piece of the pie for Garfield County would be a fee on all carbon-based fuels, based on their CO2 equivalents, with 100 percent of the money returned to households as a monthly check.
This is exactly the revenue-neutral, federal carbon fee and dividend currently proposed by Citizens Climate Lobby, advocated by Republican former Treasury Secretary George Schultz, and waiting on Rep. Tipton’s desk. Carbon fee and dividend won’t resolve all our issues related to gas and health, but it will allow the free market to correctly price and prioritize the common good in relation to climate change and air quality.
The best part is that even without accounting for potential environmental benefits, carbon fee and dividend actually grows GDP 1 percent and adds 2-3 million jobs over 20 years. With the right market signals, we can have prosperity and keep our health.
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