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SF Bay Area to Tax for Carbon Emissions

Posted By Sarah Backhouse On April 29, 2008 @ 6:19 pm In Green Report / Media | No Comments

Want a surefire solution to curbing carbon emissions? Tax them. That’s exactly what the savvy air quality regulators in the San Francisco Bay Area are attempting to implement. In what is believed to be a first for the nation — a government body will charge businesses for contributing to climate change.

The agency in question is the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which plans to bypass inaction in Sacramento and Washington by (according to the New York Times) charging industries “4.4 cents per ton of carbon dioxide emitted.” The agency, which already has independent authority to charge industries for other pollution, such as particulates, says this new fee “would be stretching its mandate to include carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases.”

So, what kind of money are we talking about here? At a recent hearing, regulators anticipated generating some $1.1 million annually with 90% of that coming from oil refineries, power plants and cement plants. For example, the Shell Oil refinery in Martinez, the biggest emitter in the Bay Area “would have to pay $195,355.00 based on 2005 emissions of 4.4 million metric tons.” For smaller businesses, it’s more about the principle: a big gas station would pay $1 per year; while the biggest Bay Area bakery, Safeway, would contribute $84 annually.

Said Linda Weiner of Bay Area Clean Air Task Force: “We believe it sets a precedent as the first time that businesses and government agencies would face financial consequences for contributing to global warming.”

Guess what? The Petroleum Association isn’t happy about the proposed fee. Quelle surprise. “This just raises more uncertainty at a time of increasing uncertainties,” Dennis Bolt, of the Western States Petroleum Association said. “It’s not productive.” The agency is working closely with the Sacramento-based Air Resources Board. Should any overlap occur, they will simply integrate.

One big CO2 emitter that’s currently not in the agency’s jurisdiction? Motor vehicles. Enjoy it while you can — I foresee carbon taxes on our rides in the very near future.

(via the New York Times)

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