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Polluting Pennsylvania

Rendell Promotes Green-Space Initiative

To finance the [open space conservation] initiative, [Pennsylvania Governor Ed] Rendell is proposing an $800 million bond issue that would have to be approved by voters. He said the bonds would be repaid through fees levied on waste disposal and on chemicals that are released into the state's air and water.

... The new fees include a surcharge of $5 a ton on trash dumped in the state's landfills, half of which comes from out of state, and a toxic-emissions fee of 15 cents a pound up to a maximum of $5 million a year for each business. Businesses generating less than 10,000 pounds a year would be exempt.

Funds generated from the toxic-emissions fee would be used to replenish a program started under the late Gov. Robert P. Casey, the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund, which is now nearly out of money. "Make people who pollute the environment pay the costs of cleaning it up," Rendell said.

... "One man's fees are another man's taxes," said State Sen. Robert J. Thompson (R., Chester County), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "No matter how you cut it, it is an increased cost to somebody."

Thompson said the question he and his colleagues were looking at was how the programs could be funded without adding undue burdens on businesses or taxpayers.

That's funny, it sounds to me like the proposed fees/taxes are quite likely to decrease costs to businesses and taxpayers. Monetary costs are easy to point to. But pollution -- both the stuff whose emission is being taxed and the stuff that would be cleaned up with the resulting revenues -- impose costs on the businesses and citizens exposed to it. If taxing emissions burdens industry, then perhaps they'll have an incentive to cut down.


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