Yes to a tax on carbon pollution

BRATTLEBORO — When Tropical Storm Irene came through in 2011, my wife and I were snug in our West Brattleboro home and never even lost electrical power.

Less than half a mile down the hill, however, the Whetstone Brook was flowing over the bridge at the bottom of Meadowbrook Road, already having irreparably damaged many mobile homes and severely impacted a number of important local businesses.

I replay this scene three years later because it is a useful metaphor for being blind to the effects of climate change. If the worst effects are not yet happening to ourselves, we might ignore that they are happening to our neighbors, or happening at all. The next time, however, it could easily be us.

I believe the most effective strategy for combating climate change is a tax on carbon pollution, also known as carbon pricing - a policy that more and more government and business leaders are advocating publicly.

A tax on carbon pollution will raise fossil-fuel prices - that's the point. The market prices of coal, oil, and gas don't currently include the true costs of carbon pollution. The impact of higher fuel prices on households and businesses, however, could be offset through such strategies as corresponding reductions in income taxes.

The carbon pricing approach will bring down emissions in a way that supports clean energy and low-carbon growth while giving businesses the flexibility to innovate and find the most efficient choices.

British Columbia's tax on carbon pollution and accompanying tax shift have been in place since 2008.

Vermont can be a U.S. leader. Please become informed and then spread the word to your governor and legislators that you believe in this policy, and that you want this change so that your children, your grandchildren, yourselves - and your neighbors - can live in a reasonable world.

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