As a research organization focused on local issues, the Public Policy Forum hasn’t taken up the issue of climate policy, but perhaps we should. The City of Boulder, Colorado, has determined that climate change is a local issue, and has instituted a comprehensive Climate Action Plan.
The result of the debate was a proposed tax on energy use, dubbed the carbon tax. Because of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) provision in
It should be noted that “carbon tax” may be a misnomer, as it is not a tax designed to act as an incentive to reduce energy use. It is, in reality, an excise tax on energy consumption and is not designed to tax at a high enough rate to change consumer behavior. It is designed as a new revenue stream to fund
The current programs funded by the carbon tax include:
Reduction of residential emissions
- Home weatherization for low-income residents
- Residential energy audits at low or no cost to homeowners
- Door-to-door public education campaigns
- Multi-family unit energy and water conservation audits (As home to the
, Universityof Colorado has a large student population and half of its residential units are rentals.) Boulder
- Compact fluorescent light bulb give-aways
- Energy STAR certification and labeling
- Trade ally network for credit trading under the Chicago Climate Exchange
- Energy conservation training for contractors and property managers
- Energy and lighting design assistance
Among other things, the plan also calls for municipal use of solar energy, solar rebates for homeowners, dedicated capacity on transmission lines for renewable energy, and decreasing vehicle miles and/or emissions. Currently under discussion is whether to renew the utility’s franchise when it expires or to have the municipality act as the utility, buying power on the open market.