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Press Release and Summary of Key Points

Press release

        When a reporter requests a quote for a newspaper article, the entire section below could be copied and pasted into an email to the reporter. These suggested points can be modified as desired for each setting.

Summary: talking points before passage of the resolution

        The discussion about climate change has moved from the established science to ways to reduce fossil fuel emissions. Federal legislation is likely to be enacted in the near term to reduce emissions, with the options being a revenue-neutral federal carbon tax or emissions trading.

        What about command-type regulation instead of either? Of course building codes need to be upgraded for energy efficiency ASAP. However a Clean Air Act for carbon dioxide would not be enough, because the burning of fossil fuels has to decrease throughout society, not only in industry.

        The debate between a federal carbon tax and emissions trading (or “cap-and-trade”) may seem remote from daily life, but the outcome will affect residents of our [city, town, or county] for decades. Although the majority of local effort needs to focus on local issues, in a democracy we the people also need to pay attention to broader affairs.

        When people learn that emissions trading acts like a covert tax, but trading is more expensive, worse for the economy, and at the same time less effective, and more readily abused than an actual tax, then broad-based support for a carbon tax could well become more widespread. Trading acts like a tax because polluters will pass the costs on to consumers. In addition, trading is more expensive due to income extracted by traders, brokers, attorneys and an extensive bureaucracy. Trading is worse for the economy because of increased energy cost variability as the permit price rides on the market in a roller coaster ride.

        Trading is less effective than a tax because the responsibility to reduce pollution is traded away, with the purchase of possibly questionable permits. Trading entails more opportunities for hidden abuse, due to persistent problems with determining the amount of emissions actually represented by permits offered for sale in complicated transactions on a wide-ranging new commodities market. Let’s not put the Earth-critical process of reducing emissions into the hands of brokers pitching deals.

        For people planning to sell offsets associated with trading, the value might be undercut by competition from inexpensive offsets from abroad. Such offsets would worsen the balance of trade. Although the valuation of many offsets can be questioned, even the most rigorously assessed offsets encourage continued business-as-usual burning of fossil fuels.

        Furthermore, escape clauses get written into the legislation for cap-and-trade that contradict the system’s reason for being: to lower the cap on emissions. One variation of an escape clause is the maximum permit “stop” price, another is the borrowing of permits from future years. Climate change has no escape clause. For this fire to sputter and go out, we have to stop fanning it.

        An actual federal carbon tax is less expensive because it is simpler. A tax is better for the economy, especially with the majority or all of revenues returned to the American people. Tax-and-dividend is more equitable than the covert tax of trading. The benefits of the dividend provide strong incentives for both consumer and business groups to lobby for it to be made.

        A tax increases the value of projects such as renewable energy sources by increasing the cost of fossil fuels. A tax makes renewables easier to invest in because returns on the investments can be estimated more accurately than under trading's increased variability.

        A border tax could be levied on products from countries without a tax, maintaining America’s international competitiveness. This step would be problematic under emissions trading.

        A tax is more effective because it is less readily abused and can be raised periodically to meet emissions reduction goals, also increasing the dividend.

        More points are covered on the website www.federalcarbontax.org, including a sample resolution.

        Advocates from across the nation are being sought to volunteer for this Initiative for resolutions by local governments in support of a federal carbon tax. The usefulness of this Initiative is that it requires relatively little time with no further commitment after passage, to achieve significant publicity and increased understanding of the tax.

        As the number of city and county governments passing such resolutions increases nationwide, with copies sent to legislators at state and national levels, the advantages of a tax will be discussed more widely, so that the tax could become politically possible. In this manner our [city, town, county] could exert a meaningful influence on this national debate about the overarching environmental policy issue of our era, reducing emissions of heat-trapping gasses.

Talking points after passage

        The passage of this resolution in support of a federal carbon tax by our [city, town, county] is the political equivalent of turning lead to gold, making a new tax more politically possible by publicizing its advantages over the covert tax, emissions trading. Not only will this resolution be sent to elected officials representing us at state and national levels, but our effort as part of the "Initiative for resolutions by local governments in support of a federal carbon tax" could inspire other local governments to take action.

       Advocates from across the nation are being sought to volunteer for this Initiative, which does not require money or much time. Listeners could find out at www.federalcarbontax.org how to send information about this non-profit Initiative to possible advocates elsewhere. Also available from that website is a free model resolution, as well as background information.

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