NH can be first in the nation to put a fee on carbon
Updated: Feb 6, 2019
Sue Durling, ECHO Action
Health Impacts and Emissions Coordinator
What if New Hampshire were first in the nation to lead on carbon fee legislation?
70% of the fees collected would be rebated to NH residents, but the rebates to citizens are not well understood. Opponents of the bill worried out loud at Wednesday's HB735 hearing, that a person with a big house, 4 cars and hot tub would receive the same rebate as a low-income person living in an apartment with no car. The intent of the bill is quite the opposite.
If HB735 is passed, that energy guzzling person would pay for that privilege through carbon fees and get little to no reimbursement. They can well afford it, and it may give them incentive to use energy more wisely. The rebates would be weighted so that low to middle-income families can expect to get back more than they pay, while upper income brackets will not benefit as much.
20% of the fees collected are dedicated to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction programs that primarily benefit low-income residents and families, small-business properties, or non-profit organizations. This structure will also direct monies to where they are most needed, the middle to lower income families. Possible uses for this block of carbon fee income could include energy efficiency retrofits for low-income housing and small business properties.
Opponents fear that any increase in gas prices would cause consumers to drive to neighboring states to fill their tanks. Yes, gas prices would increase, but those least able to afford such an increase would be more than compensated. A few cents more at the pump is unlikely to cause an exodus across state lines.
Gas prices have been all over the place in recent months. At GasBuddy.com/chart, I created a chart that shows that gas prices have bounced from around $2.20/gallon to almost $3.00/gallon and back again over the last 18 months.
Additionally, New Hampshire gas prices (red), are often the lowest when compared to Massachusetts (green) and Maine (blue) prices.
New Hampshire has a wonderful opportunity to show the county how a legislature can work together for a cleaner future by becoming the first state in the nation to put a fee on carbon.