Please join us on zoom (link available via email) from 7-7:40pm MT every other Wednesday night: W Sept 8, W Sept 22, etc. All are welcome! We’ll talk about our latest outreach efforts as we prepare to qualify for the Nov 2024 ballot by collecting signatures from about Feb 27 – Nov 27, 2023. (Mark your calendars!)

Policy brainstorming: We’re in touch with a few legislators who might be interested in introducing bills related to our proposal, and as part of those discussions we’re putting together a brief summary of our existing policy and a list of potential changes, both major and minor. The best time to contribute to this list is now (!), so please check out what we have currently (copied below) and then email us with edits or add your thoughts in the comments section on the blog.

In the news: Here’s a YouTube video of a fascinating talk, “On the history of air quality in Utah”, given by U of U atmospheric scientist Logan Mitchell for a class at BYU led by biologist Ben Abbott. Check out in particular the quote from Brigham Young in 1860: “What constitutes health, wealth, joy, and peace? In the first place, good, pure air is the greatest sustainer [of] life.”

Happy September,
Yoram and the Clean The Darn Air team

Existing policy

Here’s a summary of our proposal from 2020. (Details are on this page.) 

Money in:

  1. A carbon tax that starts at $12 per metric ton CO2 on fossil fuels burned in Utah and on fossil fuels used to generate electricity consumed in Utah. That rate equals about 12 cents per gallon of gasoline and about 1 cent per kWh of electricity. 
  2. There is a reduced rate for agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and other energy-intensive trade-exposed (EITE) businesses to help them stay competitive. 
  3. The tax goes up slowly over time.

Money out:

  1. $100 million a year for cleaning up local air pollution from wood-burning stoves, gas-powered lawn and garden equipment, freight-switcher locomotives, dirty school buses, and more.
  2. $50 million a year for rural economic development.
  3. Eliminate the state sales tax on grocery store food and other regressive sales taxes.
  4. A 20% match of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families.
  5. An expansion and extension of the Retirement Tax Credit.
  6. Additional tax cuts if possible, as determined by the state legislature.

 

Potential changes 

Money in:

    1. Technical details about carbon tax on electricity: Check with experts about how we’re measuring carbon intensity for electricity. Maybe use EEI reporting
    2. Carbon tax on petroleum refineries: Maybe relate this to adoption of Tier 3 fuel standards? 
    3. Carbon tax on aviation fuel: The context here is that Federal DOT regulations essentially require taxes on aviation fuels to go into an airport fund, so that’s what the existing measure does. One potential change here is purely semantic: add some humor and take advantage of the displeasure with the SLC airport renovation by stipulating that some or all of the money go toward “fixing the darn airport”. A second potential change would be substantive: allow a credit against these carbon tax payments for companies that invest in aviation biofuels (e.g., Delta), or invest in cleaning up the Inland Port, etc. (But… would it be legal to do that?) FYI Delta’s new-ish policy says they will “engage in legislative and regulatory public policy development concerning climate change in the US.”
    4. Carbon tax on railroad fuels: Figure out if our proposal does or should tax railroad diesel, either for long-haul locomotives or for use in local rail yards. (Do rail yards count as “large facilities”?) Maybe there’s a way to connect this to cleaning up the freight switchers
    5. Carbon tax on other EITEs: Change carbon tax treatment of energy-intensive trade-exposed businesses?
    6. Carbon tax on Inland Port companies: This may be technically difficult because it would require a metric of fuel use associated with transport through the Port, but it might be popular.
    7. Other ideas?

Money out:

  1. Rural areas: Increase rural economic development funding, and/or target it at communities currently dependent on fossil fuels? (See here.) Or try to have a lower carbon tax rate outside the Wasatch Front as a way to provide extra benefits to rural areas? Or otherwise try to provide more benefits to rural areas? 
  2. Retirement Tax Credit: Eliminate this piece of the proposal? Also need to check if recent legislation changed the Retirement Tax Credit; see here
  3. Inland Port: Is there a way to make a connection here, either on the carbon tax side or allocating revenue to clean the Inland Port? 
  4. Environmental Justice / Communities of Color / Low Income Families: Specific funding here for air pollution clean-up money, home solar panel installation, electric vehicle purchases? Other considerations? 
  5. Wildfires: Allocate revenue to fighting wildfires? Will this end up in a battle about thinning forests? 
  6. Tree-planting: Allocate revenue to this? See this NYT article. Might be good policy and also good politics because municipalities might support it. See also TreeUtah.org. 
  7. Other ideas?