Terps are Stepping Up, And So Should You

I was in tears. Sitting on my couch, watching the results on the TV, I felt paralyzed. The night Trump won the election, the only thing I could think was “it’s over, this is game over for the planet.” Obviously, this was a pessimistic viewpoint, but I think a lot of people shared this same feeling of doubt and despair. Some teachers cancelled classes the next day.
That was November. By January, I was crying for a different reason (I swear I’m not prone to crying). On the day after President Trump was inaugurated, I sat waiting to catch a flight home from Honduras after finishing a two week service project as pictures began rolling in of the Women’s March on Washington. People came together in massive amounts, over 2 million strong men and women, to protest for women’s equality. Although it was not an anti-Trump rally, it served to showcase the voices and values that were pushed aside during Trump’s campaign: equality, climate change, social justice. I was crying tears of joy, because hope was not lost.
After the election and post-inauguration, the demonstrations continued on UMD’s campus. Students came out to protest Trump’s presidency as a whole, and masses of people paraded around campus in support of refugees. A number of students attended the Women’s March. It was clear that, in the age of Trump, student activism was at its peak. Yet this trend only seems to have increased since then.winter
My professor, Dr. Jim Riker, seems to agree. Dr. Riker leads a three-course program, known as Beyond the Classroom, that encourages student civic engagement and leadership. I sat down to have a conversation with him about student activism in post-Trump society.
“There is certainly a greater number of people participating in many different ways,” he said. He has seen first-hand how students are more immersed online, protesting on campus, and marching in D.C to take a stand. During this election, and even more so after, larger amounts of students began speaking up and attending events held by the program. People packed into a tiny classroom twice every single week, to view documentaries and have open discussions about the issues we face in the world today. This has only continued.
“What has motivated people to act?” Dr. Riker asked rhetorically.
I could guess the answer.
When these issues affect you, you feel it. You want to help and speak up for yourself and your rights, but also for the rights of others and those you care about.
That’s what happened at the Women’s March, and that’s what happened with the Peoples Climate March on April 29 in Washington, D.C. Our current administration wants to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. This affects the entire world, not just in the United States. Climate change is something that affects all of us, and 120 UMD students, along with over 200,000 people, would make clear at the march.
In the lead-up to the Peoples Climate March, students attended poster-making sessions, organized panels, and gathered to plan transportation. Dr. Riker’s Beyond the Classroom program included a week of events to help students prepare. On April 29, the day of the march, he took a group of his own students to march together.
I was one of them.

We marched on Capitol Hill in the sweltering heat. My blister nearly had me scream out in pain while walking along the path to the White House, but there was no stopping me. There was no stopping any of us, even as we made it to the National Monument in 90+ degree weather. The chants, the boos in front of Trump Tower and the White House, and the smiles and passion of the masses brought me to tears yet again.
Now that the Peoples Climate March is over, we are bringing our engagement back to campus. Several on campus organizations, such as the SGA Sustainability Committee, Beyond the Classroom, Sustainable Terps, and others, provide ways to continue engaging on this issue.
The march reminded us that students at UMD — along with hundreds of thousands of others — want more than ever to participate and civically engage. Whatever the avenue, we will continue fighting against injustices to our people and our planet.

Megan Williams is a rising senior at University of Maryland, College Park, where she studies Environmental Science & Policy.

EmPOWER Maryland energy efficiency bill becomes law

Legislation expected to create nearly 70,000 jobs, grow economy and save businesses billions of dollars.

The EmPOWER Maryland energy efficiency legislation championed by businesses and environmental organizations has officially become law.
EmPOWER Maryland helps homeowners and businesses reduce energy waste by offering them technical assistance and incentives to take steps such as installing new appliances, sealing air leaks, and optimizing manufacturing production lines.
Gov. Hogan declined to sign the bill, but he didn’t veto it either, and it passed by a veto-proof margin. As a result, it officially became law at midnight this morning.
See reactions from other business and environmental organizations below
So far, the energy efficiency program has saved utility customers $1.8 billion on their electric bills. According to recent, independent research by the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy, the extension is expected to:

  • Create more than 68,000 over the next decade, with most of the jobs in construction and services.
  • Save ratepayers $11.7 billion because of reduced energy consumption.
  • Add $3.75 billion to Maryland’s gross domestic product.

“The new services EmPOWER Maryland provides will create jobs, save ratepayers money and strengthen our economy,” said Brian Toll, Policy Chair with Efficiency First Maryland. “Everyone who pays an electricity bill will benefit.”
Supporters of the bill include major trade associations, businesses, and environmental groups including Union Hospital, Schneider Electric, MGM Resorts, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the Maryland Alliance for Energy Contractors, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, among others.
James McGarry, Maryland & DC Policy Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network: “The cheapest and cleanest form of energy is the kind that is never used, thanks to energy efficiency and conservation. This bill will create good-paying jobs in energy efficiency, and help us transition to a clean energy future where our environment is protected for future generations.”
Michael Giangrande, Chairman, Maryland Alliance for Energy Contractors: “As someone who works in energy efficiency, I see firsthand how EmPOWER Maryland is creating jobs and improving people’s lives by saving them money, making their homes more comfortable and keeping electricity costs down.”
Deron Lovaas, Senior Policy Advisor, for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Urban Solutions program: “This is an amazing accomplishment for one of our nation’s most forward-thinking states. EmPOWER Maryland is an example of how common-sense policies like energy efficiency can win support no matter whether you’re a liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat.”
Jessica Ennis, Senior Legislative Representative, Earthjustice: “Clean energy solutions like EmPOWER Maryland are critical to ensuring that we have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.”


CONTACT: Denise Robbins; denise@chesapeakeclimate.org; 240-396-2022

Federal Review of Atlantic Coast Pipeline Fails People and the Environment

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s flawed analysis of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline fails the public and the environment.
An analysis of environmental impacts for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline is completely inadequate and falls far short of legal requirements.  This is the overwhelming consensus of thousands of comments filed this week with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  The agency had issued on December 30 a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the proposed 600-mile natural gas pipeline that would go from central West Virginia, through Virginia and terminate in southern North Carolina.  April 6 is the deadline for public comments.
“FERC’s inability to provide a sound analysis of this project is a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act,” said Lewis Freeman, Chair and Executive Director of the Alleghany-Blue Ridge Alliance, a coalition of 51-organizations opposing the project. “What’s more, the Commission is poised to make a decision that will reverberate for decades based on inadequate information.”
The shortcomings of the DEIS are considerable because of its failure to:

  • Assess the true market demand for natural gas in the region of the proposed pipeline;
  • Take a hard look at the effects the proposed route planned through predominantly minority and low-income neighborhoods would have on communities;
  • Consider the devastation to mountaintops construction would have across steep, forested Appalachian ridges;
  • Provide adequate environmental information. The DEIS lacks sufficient information about the ACP and its potential environmental impacts on a wide variety of resources, including water resources, wetlands, cultural resources, threatened and endangered species and climate change implications; and
  • Identify, consider, and analyze all reasonable alternatives.

“The federal government is glossing over the massive impacts this 600-mile pipeline would have on neighboring communities and climate change,” said Alison Kelly, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Greenlighting this pipeline without a sufficient review of the damage it would cause is a disservice to the people who life in its path and treasure this part of Appalachia.”
Greg Buppert, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said: “FERC is only telling one side of the story, and that story fails to answer the critical threshold question – is this project even necessary?”  Buppert points out that recent energy demand forecasts have cast serious doubt on the need for the ACP.  Furthermore, two-thirds of new generating capacity being added in the United States is based on renewable sources, not natural gas. Building the ACP would be contrary to the future growth of the electric utility industry.
“ACP refused to do the necessary impact analysis, so we have had to hire engineers to find out what will actually happen,” said Ben Luckett, a senior attorney with Appalachian Mountain Advocates. “We’ve learned the pipeline would create millions of cubic yards of excess dirt and rock for which ACP has no disposal plan and will level many of our scenic ridgetops, much like a mountaintop removal coal mine. We fear the most likely resting place for all of that construction spoil will be in our rivers, lakes, and streams. It is truly a slap in the face to hear FERC dismiss these impacts as ‘insignificant’ or, worse yet, to see that they have failed to analyze them at all.”
“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline environmental review failed to adequately address the threats it poses to our communities and our environment. This dirty and dangerous pipeline creates concern for significant risks of adverse impacts due to the nature of the terrain that the line would cross. Based on multiple unresolved environmental issues and potential hazards, and the magnitude of this project, FERC must reject the application. The stakes are very high and the risks are far too great,” said Kirk Bowers, Virginia Chapter, Sierra Club.
Anne Havemann, Senior Counsel at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said: “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would be a disaster for the climate. It will trigger a massive new wave of fracking, bringing climate pollution equivalent to 20 new coal-fired power plants. FERC’s own former chairman Norman Bay said that the agency should reconsider how it analyzes environmental impacts of pipelines like ACP, including analyzing lifecycle climate emissions. FERC should heed his advice and revise its analysis, or reject the pipeline.”
Peter Anderson, Virginia Program Manager for Appalachian Voices, noted: “A couple of months ago, the former Chairman of FERC raised significant doubts that the agency adequately analyzes pipeline need and climate impacts. This draft environmental impact statement is no different. FERC should rescind this DEIS and start over, this time with final route proposals, completed surveys, climate analysis that accounts for the entire life cycle, and a critical analysis of market demand and alternatives.”
“We know that projects like these are invariably placed near communities of low-income, people of color, or the elderly. In usual fashion, the ACP places a heavy burden on the poor and elderly, perhaps by design. These folks may not have the energy, stamina, and resources to fight, and that’s what these companies are banking on. This is an example of outside interests that plan to use our resources and toxify our land for their own benefit. It’s an old story that continues to play out the same way, despite the best efforts of local people to change our energy landscape,” said April Pierson-Keating Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance, Upshur County, WV.

# # #

Lewis Freeman, Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, 703-298-8107, lewfreeman@gmail.com
Greg Buppert, Southern Environmental Law Center, 434-977-4090, gbuppert@selcva.org
Ben Luckett, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, 404-645-0125, bluckett@appalmad.org

The Battle at Standing Rock, and Lessons for Virginia

Guest post by Gray Michael Parsons
I have been an environmentalist all my life…..it is “in my blood.”  
But growing up in the 50s & 60s in Coastal North Carolina, the more popular term was “conservationist”.  It was a much safer label than proclaiming one’s traditional obligation to protect Mother Earth as an American “Indian.”  
As a child and adolescent, my grasp of concepts such as conservation and ecosystem were deferred in favor of more simple ones such as baseball, football, the Beatles and Temptations.  But my maternal grands (who raised me) taught me to revere all life forms and the elements necessary to support life…..Sun, land, water, air, etc.  All I had to do was watch.  Their walk was their talk.  
So it was that same Traditional Indigenous value system that compelled me to travel to the Standing Rock tribal reservation in ND in the late summer and mid Fall of  2016 as a volunteer water protector.
The contemporary significance of Standing Rock (SR) was initially how the Dakota Access Pipeline threatened access to the only clean water source available to the tribe. As Natives, we saw unprecedented tribal unity happening, with the reemergence of treaty rights as a viable pathway to stop or at least divert the pathway of Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).  SR then became more than a place and a people; it grew into a model of courage, sustainable civil disobedience, and resistance to corporate power at its apex. The movement was prayerful, peaceful and powerful.  
And although an unarmed demonstration, it was met with dramatic overkill in terms of numbers and armament with respect to law enforcement. They used multiple helicopters, military Humvees, water cannons, diverse and powerful disabling sprays such as mace and pepper, rubber bullets, tear gas grenades, disabling sound and even displayed a missile launcher! Police violence and brutality in this region brings to mind that in the deep South during the peak Civil Rights movement era.  
And yet, the resolve of the people was unmovable. Why? For many reasons, but perhaps paramount among them was the fact that their backs were against the wall. It was and remains a matter of sustaining life and habitability on a sacred land.  And as the movement grew, the water protectors became more diverse with respect to all aspects of humanity: age, gender, sexuality, race, religion, culture, country of citizenship, and more.

They were us!  Indigen-US!  Not just “Indigenous”

Fast forward: The Black Snake known as DAPL is only one of an entire network of pipelines intended to transport fossil fuels extracted via fracking. These pipelines have spread like a for-profit cancer across our land, in everyone’s backyard, including your own. They contain poisonous chemicals that are patented and unavailable to be identified in  hospital ERs. The contents are going directly to the seas or major river ports for sale outside our country.  It’s about profit, not domestic security.
In West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, a similar pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, threatens to desecrate documented historically sacred Native lands……and the water source for many of you in the event of a spill.  
Our backs are against the wall. It’s time to act now!
Here’s how: Organize locally and connect statewide and regionally.  Call and write your government reps, start and support petitions.  Run for local office.  Divest from banks that are invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline and other fossil fuel projects.  Attend info meetings and refute the distortions and lies of many in the extractive industries.  The media is rarely our ally in this battle, so be your own media by writing LTEs, blog posts, and op-eds. Engage everyone you know!
In the Renape dialect of Algonquin and of some of my Coastal NC Ancestors, “Pasa Qwer Wuhn”, We Stand, We Fight. ” Ke-Ke Yu Nupi”, Water Is Life!  Join groups such as the Coalition of Woodland Nations or Indigen-US on Facebook.  Ke-Na, Nya:weh, Miigweech, thank you.  

Gray Michael Parsons

Author’s Bio:  Gray Michael Parsons is of Machapunga Tuscarora and Hatterask Native American ancestry and was born and raised in “Little” Washington, NC in 1949.  He is the author of “Hope On Hatterask” and drums and dances at native powwows and festivals in the East.  He was a Water Protector in opposition to the DAPL near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation in early September and late October 2016.  He is a graduate of East Carolina University with a degree in Parks, Outdoor Recreation, and Conservation and attended graduate studies at Johns Hopkins, Morgan State and University of Maryland, Baltimore County.  He resides in the Baltimore metro area and works in the Organic & Natural Foods industry.
Image at top from Victoria Pickering with a Creative Commons license

GOP Governor Supports Fracking Ban in MD!

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Today, Republican Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland yielded to overwhelming scientific data and voter support by giving his support to a statutory ban on hydraulic fracking for gas in the state. He made the announcement at a press conference joined by Maryland Senator Bobby Zirkin, the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 740. The bill would place a statewide ban on the drilling practice. Hogan’s announcement almost certainly assures that a fracking ban will become law in the state. The House of Delegates passed a fracking ban bill last week with bipartisan support, and the Senate could now do the same next week. Maryland would then become the first state in the country to ban fracking by statute. The ban has been supported by a huge coalition lead by the “Don’t Frack Maryland Coalition” with leadership from Food and Water Watch and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated:

“Governor Hogan’s decision to support a permanent fracking ban in Maryland has created a day of historic importance for the entire nation. Hogan has joined a statewide bipartisan effort to prevent this dangerous drilling technology from ever polluting Maryland’s water, air, climate, and childhood health. In short, he has done the right thing. Most importantly, on climate change, Maryland is now poised to keep a dangerous pool of fossil fuels in the ground forever. Scientists say this is what states across America and countries around the world need to do to solve global warming. Instead of fracking, we need more solar energy. Instead of coal, we need wind power. Instead of oil, we need electric cars. Larry Hogan just took a big step for Maryland and the nation in moving us toward that goal.”

Western Maryland Residents, Faith Leaders Arrested In Civil Disobedience Action In Support Of Fracking Ban

Sit-in at State House calls on MD Senate to pass a permanent, statewide ban on fracking

ANNAPOLIS, MD- A group of anti-fracking advocates — including faith leaders and western Maryland residents — barred the entrance to the Maryland State House Thursday morning in a peaceful act of civil disobedience. The protesters demanded that the Maryland Senate pass a permanent ban on the controversial gas drilling technique, and were joined by dozens of faith leaders and supporters at a rally on Lawyer’s Mall.
The activists appealed to Senate leadership, including Senate President Mike Miller, to lead the way in passing a bill for a statewide fracking ban. Last Friday, the House of Delegates passed a ban bill by a bipartisan, veto-proof-majority of 97-40. Maryland voters overwhelmingly oppose fracking according to recent polls from The Washington Post and Opinionworks.
“Last week, the House passed a bill to ban fracking because it has become resoundingly clear that Marylanders oppose the drilling practice,” said Delegate Shane Robinson (D-39). “I am proud to have stood up for my constituents in protecting their water and climate. Now, it is up to the Senate to take us over the finish line for a statewide fracking ban.”
Supporters of a ban say that fracking would threaten the drinking water for all Marylanders and greatly harm public health. Over 80 percent of the peer-reviewed scientific studies that have been published on public health – examining asthma attacks, premature births, high-risk pregnancies, and more – show risks or actual harm to people living near active fracking operations. Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility concluded that no regulations on fracking can “adequately protect public health and the environment over time.”
“As stewards of God’s creation, United Methodists are opposed to hydraulic fracturing because of the serious consequences for the environment, including damage to water and geological stability,” said Reverend Julie Wilson, Chair for the Board of Church and Society for the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. “We support a ban on fracking.”
“Western Maryland would be targeted first by fracking, and western Marylanders overwhelmingly know that we can never allow it to take place,” said Ann Bristow, Garrett County resident and member of Gov. O’Malley’s Marcellus shale advisory commission. “The more we learn about fracking, the more we know we need a ban. Our water, health and climate are far more important than short term gain for the natural gas industry. Once free of worrying about fracking in Maryland, we can all turn our attention to a renewable and sustainable future.”
Fracking would also threaten the local economy of western Maryland, which relies heavily on tourism and agriculture. In Garrett County, which is likely to be the first area targeted if fracking is allowed, more than half the jobs and two-thirds of the tax base are derived from tourism-related real estate and business activity—all of which could be threatened by industrial fracking operations.
Our mom-and-pop ecotourism business is run out of our house,” said Carol McMahon Calhoun, owner of All Earth Eco Tours. “Friendsville is a small valley community that would be destroyed by fracking. If fracking is allowed, it would pollute our water, air, and soil, because even though the Town proper has banned fracking, we cannot adequately protect ourselves from upstream pollution.”
“I am willing to be arrested in order to protect clean water, protect air quality, protect the people of Maryland, protect wildlife, and protect farms from the greed of the oil and gas industry, said western Maryland resident Carol Smith. “We must protect the earth since the earth cannot protect itself.”
Denise Robbins; Chesapeake Climate Action Network; denise.sylvie@gmail.com; 608-620-8819
Jackie Filson; Food and Water Watch; 202-683-2538, jfilson@fwwatch.org

House Passes Bill to Ban Fracking in Maryland for First Time With Bipartisan Support

The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill to ban fracking by a vote of 97 to 40. Advocates now call on the Senate to pass the ban bill.

Annapolis, MD —  The Maryland House of Delegates passed a milestone fracking ban bill today with unprecedented bipartisan support.  House Bill 1325, which passed by a vote of 97 to 40, would ban hydraulic fracturing statewide.
Public opposition to the practice has grown over the past year, as over a dozen counties and cities across the state have already passed local resolutions and ordinances to ban fracking and more than 1,000 Marylanders marched through the state capitol last week to demand a fracking ban.
“We cannot afford to put our health, our ecology, or the growing economy of Western Maryland at risk for fracking.  That is why a total ban is necessary and supported by the people of Maryland,” said Kumar Barve, Chairman of the House Environment & Transportation Committee that put forth the bill.
“As a longtime proponent of legislative initiatives to protect Maryland from the dangers of fracking, I commend the Maryland House of Delegates for voting in support of a fracking ban,” said Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo who introduced the bill. “Across the country, fracking is polluting the air and water of countless communities and making people sick. The passing of this bill is a huge step forward in securing Maryland as a national leader in combating climate change and protecting our citizens.”
“Marylanders have made it loud and clear that they want to keep the reckless oil and gas industry out of our state. With this vote, the House has listened to our constituents and learned from the destruction that other states already face to avoid damage to our own precious natural resources,” said Shane Robinson, Montgomery County Delegate. “Our quest for economic opportunities and growth in Maryland will not come at the expense of safe drinking water, clean air, public health and a thriving tourism industry.”
Residents from across the state have sent more than 35,000 petitions and letters in support of a ban to the General Assembly. More than 200 businesses, the majority from Western Maryland, and over 200 Maryland health professionals sent letters to the General Assembly in support of the bill.
“The passing of the fracking ban bill through the House by a 57 vote margin is truly a watershed moment for Maryland,” said Mitch Jones, Senior Policy Advocate at Food & Water Watch. “The current overwhelming support from Maryland delegates shows an understanding that without a ban, public health and local businesses cannot be protected. We applaud this critical step towards preserving the resources and economy of Maryland and call on the Senate to follow the lead of the House.”
“This is a great victory for all of Maryland for our economic future, our public health, and preserving our natural resources for generations to come,” said Karla Raettig, Executive Director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “We applaud the Maryland General Assembly House for their bipartisan action in protecting their constituents from this dangerous practice and urge the Senate chamber to do the same.”
“Today, the Maryland House of Delegates stood up for the people of Maryland in passing a ban on fracking,” said Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “This bill’s passage is the culmination of an immense grassroots movement that has been growing for years. We commend the Maryland House for working to protect the health of their citizens and the climate over Big Oil profits.”


Contact: Jackie Filson, Food & Water Watch; 202-683-2538; jfilson@fwwatch.org

The Tale of the Loud Neighbor: An Argument for a Tax on Carbon

The following is a blog post written by CCAN volunteer Andrew Crane-Droesch. In this satirical piece, he illustrates the benefits of a tax on carbon by telling the story of loud, obnoxious neighbor that needs to turn the volume way down. Take a look!
This is a blog post about carbon taxes. But before I go there, let me tell you a story about a guy named Ernie.
Ernie lives in a small condo in a big city. He has many neighbors, and the walls of his unit are thin. Ernie can hear the muffled voices of his neighbors in the hallway when he comes home from work.
When Ernie is home, his likes to listen to music. His favorite bands include Gorgoroth and Vanilla Ice. Ernie has a powerful stereo. He likes to listen to his favorite songs with the volume turned all the way up. He doesn’t like headphones because they aren’t comfortable.  And they make it difficult to copy Armi ja Danny’s sweet moves.
Ernie’s neighbors don’t like this. They have politely asked Ernie to turn down his music. Ernie resists, saying that his music makes him happy. He argues that sometimes his neighbors are loud too, and he doesn’t like their music either. He argues that this is a free country, dammit, and he can do what he wants.
So the neighbors start playing their own music louder to counteract the NKOTB marathon coming out of Ernie’s apartment. Nobody can sleep. People are starting to lose their hearing. The cats have all run away. What can be done?
Ernie’s loud music is an example of an externality. An externality is the cost born by others of anything done for oneself. Ernie experiences pleasure listening to Color Me Badd really loudly on his stereo. But his fun comes at a cost to everyone around him. His neighbors don’t get any pleasure from his music, but they’re the ones losing sleep. And they can’t get the Electric Slide out of their heads.
Does this sound familiar? Externalities are an annoying part of everyday life. One person’s cool motorcycle is someone else’s interrupted conversation. Someone’s relaxing cigarette break is another person’s asthma attack. That sinking feeling that you get when you realize that you’ve stepped in dog doo? An externality.
How can we deal with externalities? It is usually a good idea to start simple. Ernie’s neighbors can try harder to talk to him. Regulations governing motorcycle mufflers, designated smoking areas, and dog waste can be adopted.
Pigovian Taxes
But some situations call for a Pigovian tax. Named after the British economist Arthur Pigou, a Pigovian tax increases the price of a public nuisance until the costs (to society) equal the benefits (to individuals). When a nuisance is more costly, less of it is produced.
Back to Ernie. The neighbors could decide to get together and implement a Pigovian tax in the form of a volume fee. Everyone in the building gets a sound monitor just inside of their front door. Any time the music goes above some volume, a surcharge is levied on the person making the noise. So if Ernie wants to really get down to the Archies, he’ll have to pay a little extra.
Pigovian taxes have a bunch of nice features.
First: they change behavior. Ernie will probably turn his music down if the price is high enough.
Second: they spur technological innovation. Ernie might decide that it is finally worthwhile to invest in soundproofing insulation, or get some Bluetooth headphones.
Third: they are flexible. Ernie can decide whether he wants to lower the volume, invest in insulation/headphones, or just pay the fee sometimes.
Finally: they raise revenue. The neighbors can spend the money on soundproofing, fix the leaky roof, or just divide up the money and put it into their pockets.*
Carbon fees
What does carbon pollution have in common with Ernie’s Tom Jones marathon? The benefits go to the few and the costs are charged to the many.
Unless we do something, here in DC we’ll get worse heat waves, stronger storm surges, and, in a few centuries, sea-level rise that will turn Capitol Hill into an island and the national mall into a swamp. Globally, food production will plummet, species will go extinct, storms will get worse, some countries will cease to exist, and others will be sources of climate refugees. If we let these things happen, it won’t be because anyone wants them. It will because people want to burn fossil fuels, and aren’t bothered by the fact that others – including their children – will bear the consequences.
Scientists and economists on the left and right agree that a tax is probably our best policy option for fighting climate change. The idea is simple: if it costs money to burn carbon, (1) you’ll burn less of it, and (2) you’ll figure out other ways to accomplish your goal without burning carbon.
So, businesses in DC might decide to stop air conditioning the sidewalk during summer if their electricity bills go up. Builders and homeowners can demand better insulation and more efficient appliances. Individuals and businesses can switch to renewable electricity providers, and those providers will get more customers because their energy will be cheaper in relative terms.**
What do we do with all of the carbon tax money we collect? Different people have different ideas. CCAN is pushing for a rebate system, in which the money would go directly to DC residents. This would help fight inequality here in the district – rich people usually pollute more (and thus will pay more), but everyone will get the same check. This proposal is actually very similar to the approach advocated by Bernie Sanders in his recent presidential bid.  And it is nearly identical to a recent proposal by a group of republican elder statesmen.
Ultimately, the choice of how we respond to a carbon fee is up to each of us. Nobody is going to tell you how to live your life or run your business.  But we’re going to be asked to pay the cost of the messes we make. And if we all have to do this, hopefully, there will be a smaller mess.
Andrew Crane-Droesch has a PhD from UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group, and works as an economist for the federal government.  He has written this blog post in his capacity as a private citizen.  His views expressed here are his own, and do not reflect those of the federal government (obviously).  He actually *likes* Gorgoroth.
*If the money just goes back to the residents — including Ernie — why would Ernie’s behavior be affected?  Because he is taxed according to his own noise, but he is paid according to the average noise of everyone in the building.  So if he makes more noise than average, he’ll lose money.  Likewise, good neighbors would stand to benefit.
**This is because the price of dirty electricity will go up while the price of carbon-free electricity stays the same.  However, if enough people sign up for renewable energy through the energy choice program, the cost of carbon-free electricity may actually go up in the short term.  This is basic supply and demand.  But the market will adjust over the longer term.  Seeing all of the demand, more renewable energy producers will enter the market, and the competition will drive prices down.  And as there is more renewable energy production, economies of scale will begin to emerge.  For example, there will be more companies around that specialize in servicing wind turbines.  That will lower the cost of wind turbine service, lower the cost of generation, and ultimately lower the absolute cost of renewable energy compared to what it was at the start.

To Fight Back Trump's EPA Assaults, Join the People's Climate Mobilization

Come to March on April 29th to support action on climate and make your voice heard!
Washington, DC — To fight back the Trump administration’s reported attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency, the People’s Climate Movement is calling on the public to join the April 29 March for Climate, Jobs and Justice.
In undoing hard-won protections of the health of our communities and climate, the Trump administration plans to drastically slash the EPA budget by at least 20 percent, according to multiple sources. The administration’s plan to eliminate one-fifth of the department would put more than 3,000 people out of work. Just this morning, EPA chief Scott Pruitt scrapped the rule requiring the oil and gas industry to report methane pollution.
Before the EPA’s founding in 1970, urban cities from Los Angeles to New York City were plagued with heavy pollution, deeming them unrecognizable to the average person today. For nearly 50 years, the Environmental Protection Agency has been a crucial governmental tool in protection of the health and safety of people and planet.
Earlier this week, Trump signed an order attempting to roll back the waters of the United States rule adopted by the Obama administration, denying clean water to one out of three people in the US. Later that same evening, Trump gave his first address to Congress during which he paid lip service to clean air and water, but failed to mention the present risks of climate change.
The movements that turned out over 400,000 people into the streets of New York City for the 2014 People’s Climate March are bringing the fight to Washington, DC on April 29. Through this mobilization and beyond, our broad movement will demonstrate the mass resistance to the systems that attempt to divide us, while highlighting positive solutions needed to build the brighter future we know is possible.
Contact: Paul Gestos, paul@peoplesclimate.org, +1 (646) 732-0041
Lindsay Meiman, lindsay@350.org, +1 (347) 460-9082

VIDEO: To ban fracking once and for all, we need YOU to march on Annapolis

On March 2nd, concerned citizens, business owners, health professionals, and activists from across the state will gather for the “March on Annapolis to Ban Fracking” in Maryland. This comes at a crucial time as the current moratorium on fracking is set to expire in October. Without a ban, oil and l gas companies will be free to move in, threatening the health, economy, and environment of communities all across the state.
Watch these citizens explain why they plan to march in Annapolis:

“You want to get things done properly you have to engage your government.”

Fracking has been linked to dangerous health impacts, and has been proven to contaminate water hundreds of times in neighboring Pennsylvania. Fracking also brings us one step closer to climate disaster through the burning and leakage of the powerful greenhouse gas methane. “It’s going to impact the entire state, because watersheds and air move beyond boundaries,” said one citizen.
So, what are we, the active citizens, to do? Every one of us can make our voice heard by rallying and marching in Annapolis on March 2nd.
Hope to see you there!