Bay Area Regulators Approve Carbon Tax For Businesses

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Bay Area businesses are set to become some of the first in the nation to pay a tax on the amount of carbon dioxide they emit into the air.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) voted Wednesday to charge businesses 4.4 cents per ton of CO2 in a plan that could help shape how the state’s impending carbon rules will be drawn.

“The action by the BAAQMD is significant as an important opportunity to learn about how a carbon fee can be most effectively and equitably managed,” said Dan Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley and Editor at Large. “At the same time, this will not cause any complicated ‘patchwork’ of taxes. Almost certainly the next step for carbon costs is to learn from the BBQAMD process and use this information in the formulation of a statewide program.”

The fee is set to begin July 1, and should generate about $1.1 million annually that will be used to measure Bay area greenhouse gas emissions. The tax would hit the biggest polluters the hardest, such as power plants and refineries that could pay $100,000 or more. The bulk of the Bay Area’s 2,500 businesses would pay less than $1.

Opponents argued against the tax on businesses in the nine-county region, saying it will create a patchwork of regulations that could complicate impending state climate change laws and questioning the agency’s authority to regulate emissions.

“It’s going to make Bay Area businesses less competitive because companies outside the area won’t face similar costs,” Shelly Sullivan, head of a business coalition working with California to implement its new rules, told the Associated Press. “There would be a patchwork of plans that would not be consistent.”

The city of Boulder, Colo., also has a carbon tax in place, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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