Letter: Vermont must act on carbon pricing
To the Editor:
I note that Mr. McClaughry seems to be spending more of his commentary these days deriding the possibility of a carbon tax. Perhaps it's because he sees this as a threat to his way of thinking, and because it is such a logical and direct approach to addressing the great threat of climate change.
I agree with Mr. McClaughry that Vermont's carbon pricing will not solve our climate change problem. At this stage of the game, it's unlikely that anything we do, as individuals, a state, a nation, or even as global humanity, will eliminate the effects of the increased carbon dioxide we have put into the atmosphere over the last century. I'm also sure that Mr. McClaughry is aware that Vermont is not alone. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, involving all states in the Northeast as well as New York, Maryland and Delaware, is a regional carbon pricing system for electricity production. There is a similar system operating on the west coast from California to British Columbia. State laws similar to the Vermont proposal are in place in California, and being considered by Washington and Oregon. So what is Mr. McClaughry's interest in making Vermonters feel they're out on the extreme edge of climate change action? Those who are ignoring the threat of climate change are in the minority, not the other way around.
In Vermont, about half of our emissions come from transportation. Since gas taxes and their impact on fuel use are partially set at the state level, individual states are acting to address some of the negatives of fossil fuel use; the billions of our dollars each year going elsewhere to buy petroleum, the failures of internal combustion compared to electric power.
Look around you. The future is here. More extreme patterns of rainfall, everywhere; three flooding "events" last year in Vermont; in February, May and December. Climate change isn't just fires and droughts. In the Northeast, it's more likely to be Irene, again and again. The best uses of the revenue from a carbon pricing program would be to help those most vulnerable to prepare for the impacts of climate change we are experiencing with better stormwater treatment, safe efficient housing, and reliable utilities.
Vermont is a small state, and we are already suffering from the effects of climate change. We have much to lose; all the more reason to join the rising movements for greater coordinated action. The sacrifices we may experience from a carbon pricing policy are small compared to those our children are likely to face if we don't act.
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