Letter: Taxing clean energy makes no sense
Re: “Alternative to taxing for clean energy” (Letters to the editor, The Aspen Times, March 30): The idea of taxing clean energy makes no sense. Fossil fuels have already cost U.S. taxpayers more than $1 trillion for climate-change disasters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the world’s most highly cited peer-reviewed science journal, Nature, reports that the future cost of climate change, should we continue to burn fossil fuels, will be over $369 trillion.
Americans today pay over $866.5 billion annually for medical treatment of carbon-caused illnesses, according to Forbes, not to mention over 200,000 American deaths caused annually by carbon pollution, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Clean energy is already cheaper than fossil fuels if these “external” costs are not pushed off onto the public, especially if we eliminate the over $250 billion that fossil-fuel corporations receive in totally unnecessary government subsidies, according to OilChange.org. Renewables get $7 billion and have already turned a profit of $5 billion for taxpayers.
Clean energy is finally becoming cost-competitive, and it will become nearly free within about 20 years, according the Google’s chief engineer. Solar and wind are finally coming into their own — and none too soon.
The scientific community is telling us that, as quickly as clean energy is being installed, global warming is going even faster, increasing at a rate far greater than projected, according to Scientific American, and if we do not move quickly and boldly to phase out fossil fuels, the result will be “catastrophic” climate change causing “global economic collapse” and then “societal collapse,” according to the International Panel on Climate Change.
The U.S. can transition to clean energy within 15 years, according to the Guardian, and can create a long-lasting economic boom in the process. We have a proven mechanism to do this. It’s called carbon fee-and-dividend, and it’s been successful in British Columbia for eight years now. It’s slashed carbon emissions, created jobs, and lowered taxes and energy bills while growing its economy faster than any other Canadian province (“The Evidence Mounts,” The Economist, July 31, 2014). It has a whopping 83 percent public approval rating, according to the World Bank.
Here’s how it works: All fossil fuels, oil, natural gas and coal pay an increasing carbon-pollution fee, which is distributed in equal monthly “dividend” checks to every taxpayer. As the fee makes dirty energy steadily more expensive, people make a profit by switching to renewables. It’s projected to increase U.S. gross domestic product $75 billion to $80 billion annually, according to the Citizens Climate Lobby website.
Clean energy creates about 10 times as many jobs as fossil fuels do. Solar employs more Americans than the oil and gas industries combined, according to the Guardian. A 100 percent clean-energy economy in the U.S. is not only possible — it’s projected to create over 5 million permanent (40-year) U.S. jobs, according to Stanford University’s SolutionsProject.org. And these jobs are higher-paying than fossil fuel jobs, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Over 1.2 million “green” jobs were created in the first quarter of 2015, according to Greentechnica.
We don’t have to choose between a good economy today and a healthy, prosperous future for our children and our grandchildren. All we lack is the political will to get Congress to pass a carbon-fee-and-dividend bill.