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The Green Life: Carbon and Cents

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May 22, 2008

Carbon and Cents

The San Francisco Chronicle calls it a fine, the Associated Press calls it a carbon tax. Others call it monumental, but only a first step. What would you call yesterday's move to charge 2,500 San Francisco Bay Area companies 4.4 cents for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit? With a 15-1 vote, the air quality regulator for the nine-county region followed Boulder, Colorado with a plan to charge businesses for greenhouse gas emissions. While Boulder channels funds into climate change education and energy conservation programs, the Chronicle reports other plans in the Bay:

District officials took pains to emphasize the estimated $1.1 million to be collected annually will pay for collecting and tracking data on greenhouse gases. What's more, individual fees will be too small in most cases to penalize polluters or deter the discharge of carbon dioxide.

Chris Morrison asked on VentureBeat this morning if a grassroots movement toward emissions taxing might overcome cap-and-trade schemes, which allow companies to trade permits for set amounts of emissions on an open market. He thinks it's unlikely, but possible. What do you think?

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