Pay to dump

Part of the solution to greenhouse gas emissions is really very simple: charge a waste disposal fee for dumping of fossil fuel exhaust into the atmosphere. It was not all that many years ago–the 1970s to be exact–when people and businesses were allowed to use the nation’s waterways as free sewers. The Clean Water Act put an end to that and mandated that those wishing to dispose of liquid waste pay to have it treated safely. Obviously it is not feasible to collect gaseous waste in the analogue of sewers, but it is possible to put a price tag on the effects of that waste on the environment. Collecting those costs through a tax on fuel with the revenues dedicated to research on renewable energy would go a long ways toward putting the US in the forefront of dealing with climate change instead of being the world’s leading bad actor.


1 Response to “Pay to dump”

  1. 1 Leo Cotnoir July 25, 2014 at 18:20

    You raise some good points. I would offer that it does not matter where the money collected as an atmospheric waste disposal fee goes because the cost of that disposal is widely dispersed. In an ideal world, the money would go toward developing clean energy technology but in the real world simply raising the cost of burning fossil fuels will have the effect of making clean energy more competitive in the marketplace. Solar and wind can not compete effectively today because the fossil fuel industry does not pay to dispose of its waste. And you are correct that taxes on industry are taxes on people. That is why I am on record for the elimination of corporate income taxes. But a carbon tax is really not a tax but a fee for using the atmosphere as a dump. As for natural gas, yes, it is cleaner burning than coal and most oil. But current extraction methods leak so much methane into the atmosphere that natural gas puts more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than coal does.

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