Details of The Petition For A Green Recovery

In order to implement pricing that tells the ecological truth or True Cost-Benefit Pricing, we’ll need to figure out as closely as possible what the overall, long term costs are to society and the environment.

We propose the following. In a one to two year crash program, our scientific community would lead the way, using the new science of industrial ecology’s lifecycle cost assessment procedures  (LCA’s) to estimate the true complete lifecycle costs, ecological footprint and embodied toxicity of a) major methods of industrial and energy production,  b) major  inputs such as water and c) major families of industrial ingredients such as paper, steel, plastics and major chemicals that go into products, services and methods of agricultural, industrial and energy production . This process would have many checks and balances to minimize as much as possible  any self-serving manipulation and hiding of data. For example, it will be conducted in an open, transparent environment, online and in other public media, with a clear and serious set of rewards for discovering and punishment for hiding and/or manipulating data such as what the tobacco companies did for 30 years. All testing, such as for chemicals, will be conducted by newly formed government labs manned by personnel from redundant government agencies and paid for by APT fees instead of by the affected industries. This is to eliminate being influenced by the signers of their paychecks. These lab employees will be given lifetime employment and good wages to further minimize corruption. They too will be able to garner rewards as well as be seriously punished for data manipulation and hiding.

New chemicals will need to first be proven as long term safe to humans and the environment before being commercially produced and sold.  With existing chemicals, the precautionary principle aka better safe than sorry, will take precedence. Or put another way:

When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public,  should bear the burden of proof [of safety]. The process of applying the precautionary principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action [i.e. no activity as proposed.] See Figuring True Costs & Benefits for more details.

These additional costs would then become True Cost-Pollution Prevention APT taxes, tacked on at the best and most appropriate points of extraction, production,  importation and/or sales to end-users. At the retail level, they could be clearly labeled with simple,  visual cues such as pie charts so people could easily see if something’s more expensive because it costs more to make or because of its greater ecological costs. They would also be stick-on labels so when manufacturers lowered their pollution and/or ecological footprint, and that was verified, they could print new stickers without having to make new packaging.

Known culprits that are very toxic and/or costly and have widely available alternatives would be outright banned like lead and styrofoam. Other products that we know are much more costly than their current market pricing would not have to wait for one to two years before being repriced but would start to be taxed right away. For example oil, coal and natural gas, both domestic and imported, would start to incur Anti-Pollution Tax taxes tacked on at the most appropriate points of extraction, production,  importation and/or sales to end-users.

These APT taxes would steadily increase in pre-publicized, predictable stages, perhaps every six months:

  • To more closely reflect the taxation/costs already being levied by these products, services and methods on society, future generations and the environment
  • To reduce this rapidly mounting bill by using two common sense notions— a dollar of prevention is worth a hundred dollars of  “maybe cure or cleanup/maybe not” and better safe than sorry
  • To give businesses, organizations and public agencies time to plan and invest in reducing their pollution and ecological footprints

25% of these APT taxes annually worth $100’s of billions of dollars  would then be rebated every month to the bank accounts of every adult taxpayer, documented or not who filed and paid taxes the previous year, to help cushion them and their families from initially higher prices and help them buy eco-friendlier products, vehicles and services.

The other 75% would help jump start a boom in demand for green jobs and the Green Recovery, with targeted, sliding scale subsidies, disbursed by state and local governments:

  • To help low to average income homeowners, renters, small businesses, farms and ranches pay for making their homes, apartments and businesses more energy efficient. This would include solar and wind systems sized to also power plug-in/electric cars, motorcycles, scooters and bicycles. The goal and slogan: Your Home and Business Is Your Castle, Make It Your And America’s Power Plant Too!
  • To help unemployed, low to average income citizens, and workers in highly impacted industries such as oil workers and coal miners get training and  start their own green businesses such as installing solar and wind systems, retrofitting homes, apartments and businesses for energy-efficiency and developing, making, selling and providing ever cleaner, safer goods and services.
  • To help regional mass transit districts lower fares, expand routes and services and convert their systems to clean electric power. (See Petition for Solar America.)

APT taxes would “4 wheel-drive” an accelerating cycle — the taxes pushing producers to be constantly cleaner and these same taxes rebated pulling the purchase of constantly cleaner goods, services, and methods. What further accelerates this cycle of ever cleaner and healthier is that when companies reduce their pollution and/or ecological footprint, they get their APT taxes reduced — becoming more profitable and competitive!

Rebating APT taxes back to the public will make eco-friendlier alternatives:

  • Easier to choose — they’ll be less expensive
  • Easier to buy — their purchase will often be subsidized by these same taxes
  • Easier to find and find jobs making them — because of the boom in demand followed by the boom in investment and supply of ever cleaner, safer goods, services and methods. This includes methods of agricultural, industrial, and energy production with clean technology, clean energy and green chemistry being some of the world’s next huge growth industries.

The ultimate goal of APT txes is to put themselves out of business with products, services and methods that don’t pollute and tax, harm or unduly burden society and the environment at all. In other words, the goal is no pollution, i.e. a clean, green, sustainable economy and this is an effective way to get there.

To see what our country would look like with pricing that told the truth, click A Healthier America with True Cost Pricing.

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Thank You!