Vermont conservation officials push lawmakers for carbon tax.

Source: Daily Climate

Members of a dozen town energy commissions demanded greater leadership from state policymakers and asked specifically for their support for a tax on carbon dioxide pollution to replace or reduce other taxes residents currently pay.

Lawmakers have proposed several bills this year in hopes of accomplishing this, including one that would eliminate the state’s sales tax and replace it with a tax on carbon dioxide pollution.

Vermont’s border towns are eager for such a competitive position versus their neighbors, said Alan Johnson, chairman of the Hartford Energy Commission, at a press event Thursday at the state capitol.

“We are very excited about removing the sales tax,” Johnson said. “That would absolutely address every concern about commerce you might have for border towns feeling the effects of a carbon price.”

“We want commerce, and we don’t want fossil fuels, so frankly, a direct swap … if that’s as simple as it was, would be a great thing for Hartford,” he said.

Hartford residents and others would be free to drive across the border to buy gas and other fossil fuels in New Hampshire if they objected to paying a carbon pollution tax, Johnson said.

Members of other towns’ energy committees urged lawmakers to take action on the carbon tax bills, but the legislation won’t be taken up until next year, according the lawmakers.

“We’re here to say to the Legislature, ‘Be bold, and start preparing for the next session,’” said Weybridge Energy Committee member Fran Putnam. “We’d like to see a price on carbon.”

State residents buy $1 billion of fossil fuels each year from companies outside Vermont, Putnam said. A tax on the pollution those fuels emit would go a long way toward putting in-state renewable energy producers on a more competitive footing, she said.