How to cut air pol­lu­tion in Mary­land

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND VOICES - Rich Scis­sors, El­li­cott City

Re­gard­ing your re­port “Mary­land won’t join law­suit against EPA over in­ter­state pol­lu­tion” (Oct. 15), what we have here is a fail­ure to re­mu­ner­ate.

Six north­east­ern states are su­ing to force the EPA to hold nine Mid­west­ern and South­ern states ac­count­able for the air pol­lu­tion they send down­wind, which is caus­ing dam­age here for which we are not be­ing com­pen­sated. This is­sue has been on EPA’s plate for three years and will likely drag on a lot longer.

It doesn’t have to drag on. There is a sim­pler so­lu­tion that will re­duce air pol­lu­tion, in­clud­ing harm­ful green­house gases. That is a na­tion­wide rev­enue neu­tral fee on fos­sil fu­els when they are ex­tracted from the ground or at their first port of en­try into the coun­try.

This fee would then be re­turned to ev­ery Amer­i­can fam­ily in the form of a monthly div­i­dend check. The fee would start out low and grad­u­ally rise on an an­nual ba­sis, so as to not cause an eco­nomic shock and be pre­dictable. Freemar­ket forces would cause peo­ple to switch to cleaner fuel sources and con­serve en­ergy.

The monthly div­i­dend would help de­fray the in­creased costs of goods and ser­vices, es­pe­cially for low-in­come house­holds. Fur­ther, the fee and div­i­dend would spur busi­nesses to in­vest in cleaner al­ter­na­tive en­ergy and greener tech­nol­ogy. The div­i­dend will cre­ate an over­all stim­u­lus to the econ­omy.

If you think the ben­e­fits of a Car­bon Fee and Div­i­dend sound too good to be true, they’re not. Bri­tish Co­lum­bia in­sti­tuted a car­bon tax with as­so­ci­ated cuts in per­sonal and busi­ness taxes along with an in­crease in low-in­come credit in 2008.

By 2014, it had cut its fos­sil fuel use by 16 per­cent com­pared to a 3 per­cent in­crease for Canada over­all, and its econ­omy out­per­formed the rest of Canada’s.

With a new Congress tak­ing of­fice in Jan­uary, there is a great op­por­tu­nity to push for sim­i­lar car­bon fee and div­i­dend leg­is­la­tion here in the U.S.

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