Environmentalists lobby for huge carbon tax in Vermont

Despite a budget deficit it is not preventing environmentalists from continuing to seek restrictions on carbon emissions. According to The Northfield News, environmentalist groups in Vermont are pushing for a carbon tax that, in theory, is supposed to tax fossil fuels and, hence, tax polluters would would result in less use of fossil fuels. The effects of such a policy would result in the exact opposite of what the policy’s proponents hope would occur since the polluters are (you guessed it) us. What’s worse is the amount people would have to pay should the levy be enacted.

The tax would be charged as a fee per metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted and would be imposed on distributors of gasoline, home heating oil, propane, natural gas, and other fossil fuels.

Obviously the costs would then be passed through to consumers, with the expectation that this would create an incentive to burn less fuel.

Estimates are that each $10 tax per metric ton of carbon would translate, in the case of gasoline, to a tax increase of about 9 cents per gallon. In one scenario, the promoters of the initiative describe phasing in a $50 per ton tax over 10 years, which would mean about 45 cents on a gallon of gas, which the group said would generate about $250 million a year by year 10.

Forty five cents on a gallon of gas is a decent chunk of change, in my view. Ultimately, consumers are going to pay for this. In theory having to pay such a tax would be a way to reduce people’s use of fossil fuels but I do not like the idea of laying guilt on people for using a resource they need in order to live.

Fortunately, it looks like Vermont’s Governor may not be too keen on the idea. The state recently had to scrap plans for a single payer health care system due to the multiple layers of bureaucracy and taxation needed to implement it. With Vermont being a very expensive state to live in with a small economy, I doubt there is much momentum for a new tax. According to The Northfield News:

According to news reports after the carbon tax proposal was first floated in November, Gov. Peter Shumlin “said he was skeptical Vermont could go it alone without losing gasoline sales and other business to neighboring states” and that he would prefer to see a regional or national carbon tax

It goes on to point out:

Fossil fuel pollution is a very big problem, but Vermont is not exactly the biggest villain. We rank 49 of 50 states in our per capita carbon dioxide emissions, at about 9 metric tons per capita, in contrast to states such as Wyoming, the highest in the United States at 113 metric tons per capita, or the others in the top five: North Dakota at 78, Alaska at 53, West Virginia at 52 and Louisiana, 49 metric tons per capita. (These numbers are from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.)

So there you have it. There is the idea but not the will nor need to do so. That doesn’t mean green groups still won’t try or stop trying despite defeat.