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Plattsburgh City Leaders Endorse Federal Carbon Tax Legislation

Plattsburgh Common Council
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Plattsburgh Common Council

A bill introduced in the U.S. House in January would impose “a fee on the carbon content of fuels… or any other product derived from those fuels that….emit greenhouse gases…”  City officials in Plattsburgh recently joined a number of municipalities across the country in supporting the measure.
Introduced by Florida Democrat Theodore Deutch, House bill 763 has only been reviewed in the House Ways & Means committee and has been stalled in the Subcommittee on Energy since January.  The 73 co-sponsors include seven from New York  and two from Massachusetts, all Democrats. In mid-November, Plattsburgh Ward 1 Democrat Rachelle Armstromg brought forward a resolution for initial consideration for the city to endorse the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019. “I believe that this, that the approval in support of this initiative is perfectly in line with all of the city's goals in terms of being a responsible and sustainable community. It's a very interesting  approach, which, you know, essentially puts a price on carbon and and then refunds whatever is generated from the collection of that tax  to the public.”

At the latest common council meeting the resolution was up for final consideration. Citizens’ Climate Lobby North Country Group Leader and Congressional Liaison Tim Palmer told councilors that the climate crisis must be addressed at every level.  “This act addresses the issue at every level by including the environmental costs of burning carbon fuels and their price. Revenues are collected where fossil fuels enter the economy and are all returned as a monthly dividend in equal shares to every resident of the United States. The dividend provides those in the lower two-thirds of the economic spectrum with more money from the dividend than the additional costs incurred due to the increase in the price of fuels. This act as written will reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 and 90% by 2015.”

Councilor Armstrong reiterated the importance of acting to address climate change noting the city has become a state Climate Smart Community.  "As counselors though many of our decisions deal with current local circumstances we must also be mindful of how our future is impacted by federal and state policies and laws. In a September op-ed for the Tucson Sentinel Raymond Pierrehumbert, the lead author of the 2018 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report wrote: 'With regard to the climate crisis, it's time to panic.' I urge my fellow council members to pass this resolution. By doing so we continue to act according to our established tradition of advocacy for a sustainable future."

Mayor Colin Read, a Democrat, says the city is well positioned to benefit from the federal legislation.  “Given that the city of Plattsburgh is so close to carbon neutral, we'd have a net benefit because we wouldn't be paying a lot of carbon taxes because we use a lot of sustainable fuel, they'd still get the rebates coming in.”
Armstrong:  “Right.”
Read:  “So this is very attractive for city of our sort.”

The Plattsburgh Common Council unanimously approved the resolution to support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.  The villages of Kinderhook, New Paltz, and  Rhinebeck, the towns of Plattsburgh, Red Hook and Rhinebeck, the cities of Brockport, Rochester and  Syracuse and Tompkins County are among the communities in New York that have endorsed the bill.

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