Talking points State Carbon Tax

The State carbon tax bill (A107 / S2847) is in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee (chaired by Denny Farrell) and the Senate Government Investigations and Operations Committee (chair by Sen. Murphy)

We need 1. More sponsors on the bill
2. To get the bill voted out of committee
3. To get them to push their conference to support the bill

We also support a feasibility study of a state carbon tax, as Oregon and Massachusetts have done. There is a study in the bill, but there is also a stand-alone carbon tax study bill. (A1919 / S4598)

We need a carbon tax bill to make polluters pay for the damages they cause by burning fossil fuels. Even just breathing the air pollution costs NY residents an extra $30 billion a year in health care costs and more than 3,000 excess deaths (from Jacobson; other studies from Ciazzio have higher numbers). A carbon tax would make the various fuels for heating / cooling, electricity and transportation reflect their actual social costs and would accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and to renewables.

(National Academy of Sciences says nationwide cost of burning fossil fuels is $120 billion a year.

The need for state action is more critical with the present federal administration in control of climate deniers. A national carbon tax would be a great idea, but short of that, a state carbon tax is needed. British Columbia has had a regional carbon tax for a decade. Northeastern states do place a small price on carbon through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Most of the states (VT, RI, Mass, I believe Conn) have also introduced state carbon tax bills (our bill provides a credit for RGGI payments). Oregon and Washington are also looking at state carbon taxes.

Even the industry – fossil fuel companies, NYS Business Council – support a carbon tax, they just differ over which government should oppose it. A poll by Yale found that 60% of Trump voters support a carbon tax ( About 2/3 of voters support a carbon tax nationally, with slightly higher support for investing revenues in renewables (but especially among Republicans) (

Cuomo has used carbon pricing as the basis for his flawed subsidy for nuclear power plants. Other electric producers through NYSISO are now clamoring for carbon pricing rather than Cuomo’s plan which just helps one company in one industry. Cuomo 18 months ago, as part of a study by the Georgetown climate center, called for a regional gas tax, which proceeds dedicated to mass transit.

The carbon tax would start at $35 a ton and then increase in annual increments of $15 a ton. 60% of the revenues would be rebated to low and moderate income consumers. The remaining forty percent will support the transition to one hundred percent clean energy in the state, to support mass transit to reduce carbon emissions, and to improve climate change adaptation. Such funds shall include payments and subsidies for renewable energy, energy conservation and efficiency measures, improvements in infrastructure, improvements in mass transit capacity, agricultural adaptation measures, protection of low-lying areas including coastlines, and emergency responses to extreme weather events.

“Carbon-based fuel” means coal, natural gas, renewable biomass, petroleum products, and any other product that contains carbon and emits carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, or other greenhouse gases when combusted, that are used for fuel, heating, cooling, or industrial processes, which processes shall include electricity generation.

May 23, 2017