Senators in Rhode Island have pulled a bill proposing the introduction of a carbon tax, saying that it requires “further refinement”, while Vermont lawmakers declined to advance similar measures in their state.
Rhode Island’s Carbon Pricing and Economic Development Investment Act of 2015, written by a local university student and tabled by five Democrat state senators in February, proposed putting a $15/ton tax on all fossil fuels imported into the state.
But it was withdrawn by its primary sponsor Sen. Walter Felag, who according to a Senate spokesman “believes the legislation needs further refinement”.
“He looks forward to working together with the advocates to continue working towards this important goal,” the spokesman added.
The bill called for the tax to be increased annually by $5 in real 2015 dollars, and would have also applied to methane and other greenhouse gases emitted through industrial processes or the transportation and usage of fossil fuels.
Revenue collected would have helped to cut transport emissions and funded other clean energy sources.
The bill’s first draft was written by Brown University student Solomon Goldstein-Rose, who told local media he hopes it is reintroduced.
“The fact that the sponsors aren’t interested—these particular sponsors—in moving forward this year, it’s disappointing, because it was going to create 1,000 jobs in two years,” he told Rhode Island Public Radio.
An economic impact study of the tax estimated that it would reduce Rhode Island’s emissions by 35% from current levels and create around 4,300 jobs, RIPR reported.
Meanwhile, in the nearby state of Vermont, lawmakers this week declined to advance either of two carbon tax bills that had been tabled, despite mounting pressure from consumers and businesses to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions.
Both bills would have taxed fossil fuels via distributors, increasing in absolute terms annually. The proposals also included offsetting the impact of the taxes on the state’s economy by introducing new tax credits or cuts.
More than 200 local businesses including ice cream makers Ben & Jerry’s are campaigning to put a price on carbon, but the chance of Vermont lawmakers enacting a law this year appear slim with the 2015 legislative calendar coming to an end.
Neighbouring Massachusetts is also looking into a carbon tax.
No US state currently taxes carbon emissions directly.
By Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org