Tuesday, October 27, 7:00 pm, SCIENCE CABARET, Coltivare

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WHAT IF NEW YORK PASSED A CARBON TAX?  Community Leaders Role Play the Future

MC:  Mark Sarvary

Host: Gay Nicholson, Sustainable Tompkins and the Seal the Cracks campaign

Premise:  NYS has passed a carbon tax after much debate.  It is one of the most aggressive and visionary in North America.  Each county will receive from the State a share of the collected tax after 60% of the tax is redistributed to low and moderate-income households to compensate them for higher fossil carbon energy prices.

In a stunning political compromise, the Cuomo administration agreed to forego collecting any of the carbon tax for use at the state level.  All of the 40% remaining refunds is to go to the counties to be used locally to both meet the State climate goal of 80% emission reductions by 2050 and to pay for any adaptation response needed by local communities.

It is now 2017 and the tax rate is $50/ton.  Tompkins County will receive $20 per ton of CO2 emissions in the county.  Emissions are estimated to be 1 million metric tons of which 31% is for heating, 26% for electricity, and 43% for transportation.  Carbon tax revenues for local use in 2017 will be $20 million dollars.

Due to citizen agitation over how the carbon tax funds were spent in 2016, the Governor has asked county legislatures to appoint a diverse Carbon Budget Task Force to propose how to spend the funds locally.  Their proposal must be approved via online voting by county residents.  After approval of the budget, revenues will be divided on a percentage basis for the next two years, after which the Counties must appoint a new Task Force to propose a budget for each two-year period after that.  Presumably the revenue will decline each year as people move away from use of fossil fuels.  So it’s important that we get it right!