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Forum, May 18:A carbon tax not right for Vermont

Published: 5/17/2020 10:00:05 PM
Modified: 5/17/2020 10:00:03 PM
A carbon tax not right for Vermont

In 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association, Vermont had the second-lowest energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by state. So why do we need a carbon tax? The answer: We don’t. Implementing a carbon tax in Vermont is a waste of time, money and effort.

Approximately 44.5% of Vermont’s emissions come from the transportation sector, according to Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources. Cars are necessary for Vermonters, as there are few forms of public transportation. Additionally, demand for gasoline is inelastic, meaning that no matter the price, people will still buy it. Increased costs of gasoline from a carbon tax won’t decrease driving rates and will inflict unequal burdens on residents, as those with lower incomes have to spend a larger portion of their earnings on gasoline.

Vermont’s residential sector, as reported by Vermont’s ANR in 2016, contributed 27.5% of statewide emissions. A majority of the emissions produced by the residential sector come from petroleum consumption for heating. Demand for petroleum, like gasoline, is inelastic. A carbon tax would increase prices, causing the poor to cut consumption, which is exceptionally unfair as the rich contribute the most to the problem.

To be sure, preventing a carbon tax in Vermont may not be the best option. In 2019, Vermont legislators discussed two bills concerning carbon taxation. The first, H.477, proposes a fee on fossil fuels, and revenue would go to funding public transportation or returned as tax credits. The second, H.463, proposes that tax revenues would return to consumers through electricity bill refunds. Although the bills introduce ways of reallocating revenue to lower-income and rural Vermonters while maintaining an effective carbon tax, they don’t address the root of emissions.

A shift in focus is critical, as legislatures need to work on creating inclusive public transportation systems as well as weatherizing homes to reduce the state’s use of carbon-emitting fuels as well as emissions. Carbon taxes don’t target social, economic and environmental drivers behind fossil fuel use, and although taxation may work in some states, it is not the right fit for Vermont.

OLIVIA BROOKS

Hartford

Bank of America dodges questions about drilling

Morgan Stanley just released an update to its environmental policy, ruling out funding for oil and gas projects in the Arctic region, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The release of this change in the bank’s policy comes in the wake of similar announcements from other big American banks, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup, as well as more than a dozen international banks.

Five of the biggest banks in the U.S. have now rejected any funding for Arctic drilling. This is great news that these major banks have dropped out of the shortsighted, financially foolish plan to drill in our Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Now there is just one to go — Bank of America. But, when shareholders questioned Bank of America about its Arctic policy at its recent annual meeting, bank executives dodged the question.

The Trump administration wants to hold a lease sale in the Arctic Refuge as soon as possible. We must speak up to halt this from happening. The Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior need to recognize the value of our wild lands. The sustainable life of the indigenous people who live in the region should not be sacrificed. The majority of Americans do not want exploration and drilling in the Refuge, plus we must address climate change. And oil use will be vastly reduced and outdated in the coming years.

Five of the six biggest U.S. banks have rejected funding for Arctic drilling. Where is Bank of America?

CAROL WEINGEIST

Hanover

The hypocrisy of both princes and the public

Throughout history and up to today, princes have been willing to sacrifice segments of the population. The most obvious example of this is the soldiers we all send off to war. The most pressing example of this is COVID-19. The groups we are now willing to sacrifice are the front-line nurses, doctors, police and emergency personnel.

We all are co-conspirators by meekly sheltering in place.

PAUL TIERNEY

Norwich

Deliver the data

I am a faithful subscriber, reader and contributor to the Valley News, but I find your formats often unhelpful. I have two simple suggestions:

■ Keep and print in an easy-to-read format or chart the running tab on the number of new COVID-19 positive cases and deaths each day in New Hampshire and Vermont (and maybe Massachusetts) for the previous 14 days. Those follow public health guidelines that we all need to know now so that we can see for ourselves when the number of new cases and deaths here declines. I am keeping my own chart, but it is crucial information we should all have and who better to provide it regularly than the Valley News?

■ Print a daily report on stock market indices like the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500. I know that these indices are not a good measure of general economic well-being since barely half of the population owns stock, but the daily closings are relevant news and should be covered.

PHYLLIS TILSON PIOTROW

New London




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