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Monday, March 30, 2009

Climate scientist supports carbon tax and rebate

From a story by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

A federal carbon tax should be enacted but the money should be sent back to taxpayers, a leading climate scientist suggested Wednesday.

James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York,who has been studying the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere for decades, said Wednesday that the U.S. government should enact a carbon fee-and-dividend that would persuade consumers to change how they use energy and reward those who reduce their carbon footprints.

"The person who does better than average in reducing carbon emissions will actually make money," he said.

In a keynote address to the Renewable Energy Summit in Milwaukee, Hansen said a national global warming policy is needed to thwart and reduce the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

"We have reached a point where there is a crisis," he said. . . .

Under Hansen's proposal, a tax, equivalent to $1 per gallon of gas would raise $670 billion a year, which would result in $3,000 being sent back to every adult in the country, and $1,500 per child, capped at a maximum of $9,000 for a family of four or more.

Hansen urged President Barack Obama to "have a fireside chat" to discuss the need for a carbon fee and of the need for Americans to change their energy habits.

A tax would also be a step toward energy independence from imported oil, said Hansen, who said a representative of the government of Saudi Arabia bristled at the idea during a dinner conversation.

"They realize that if you did this, the next time gasoline is $4 a gallon, $2 or $3 would stay in the U.S. and just be distributed back to the citizens as a dividend rather than all $4 going to the Middle East," Hansen said.

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