Grassroots

US Regional Map Western United States Northeastern United States : New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvannia Central United States Southern United States

This page has two faces. One, represented by the map above, reports on state and local initiatives promoting carbon taxing, by region. Click on any of the four sections of the map to learn about carbon tax efforts in the Northeast, South, Midwest or West.

Secondly, the page presents grassroots voices that are essential to a successful carbon tax campaign. Local initiatives resonate with local and even regional or national media as well as in the political arena. As well, fresh voices often find fresh ways to frame carbon tax issues.

Here’s a sampling:

Sylvester Johnson, a scientist (Ph.D in Applied Physics) and semi-retired businessman, has begun a campaign urging local governments to pass resolutions supporting a federal carbon tax. Johnson, who lives in the Ithaca, New York area, has begun at home and within two months of drafting the proposal has already convinced the Ithaca Council to pass the resolution. Johnson is urging activists around the country to ask their local governments to pass similar resolutions. He is supporting his campaign by sponsoring advertisements in several national magazines, an effort that has already won him well-deserved press coverage. To learn more about Johnson’s campaign and how you can participate, please visit his federalcarbontax.org web site.

Tom McKinnon, a professor of chemical engineering at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, began advocating for a carbon tax as a member of a state-level climate task force. He went on to found the Colorado Carbon Reduction Initiative, which we report on here. Tom’s quote in a Feb. 2007 article in the Colorado Springs Business Journal is among the best brief framing we’ve seen of the need for a carbon tax:

[A carbon tax] will force companies and people to be more efficient. It will level the playing field for non-carbon based fuels [and] give incentives for investment in wind energy or solar power companies. There’s a lot of room for innovation if the playing field is level.

James Handley, also a chemical engineer and formerly an attorney with US EPA, is a vociferous advocate for taxing carbon. Read his powerful flyer on the need for a carbon tax, and his cover article in the Spring 2007 Capital (Washington, DC) Sierran, "Carbon Taxes: Powerful Incentives to Steer Away from Climate Catastrophe." Note his terrific lead: "The weather forecast is frightening… Time to transfer fear into… prices!"

James also walks the talk. Last spring he conducted an energy audit at a D.C. private school where a friend teaches a class on environmental-political activism. James had the school send his $200 fee to CTC as a donation!

Kenneth Kraft lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, near Lake Superior. In March 2007 he published a letter in the Daily Mining Gazette, a venerable  (founded 1858) local paper, noting that "A carbon tax would provide the maximum incentive for bright engineers to improve the efficiency of fossil fuel use in all sectors of society." Kenneth’s letter went on to say:

A carbon tax does not necessarily mean a net increase in our cost of living. Carbon tax revenues could be directed to government expenditures, so that income tax rates could be reduced. A tax on carbon, which would show up in higher costs for electricity or gasoline, would provide an incentive for each of us to use energy more efficiently if we wanted to pay lower taxes.

Wayne Madsen isn’t exactly a grassroots-er. His Wikipedia entry describes him as a Washington, D.C.-based investigative journalist and syndicated columnist. Still, his March op-ed in the Salt Lake City Tribune, Only a carbon tax can stop global warming, is a fine example of the proselytizing needed to reach the Heartland.

These are some of the ways advocates from California to Maine are making the case for a carbon tax. Please let us know ([email protected]) about your efforts, and be sure to call on us if we can help.


Last updated: April 15, 2008