On May 19, 2020, Bill Pekny wrote a letter to the editor correctly describing carbon dioxide (CO2) as a “colorless, odorless, non-toxic gas,” essential to life on earth (“Letter: Don’t tax carbon dioxide”). But he goes on to deny it can be a pollutant or “contribute to the formation of pollutants.”
One definition of a pollutant is a substance in the environment that has undesirable effects. CO2 is the greenhouse gas that contributes the most to our warming climate. The recent marked elevation of CO2 in the atmosphere has been confirmed by climate scientists and essentially all relevant, professional science organizations as a grave threat to our public health and welfare. Does that sound undesirable? That is why the Supreme Court defined CO2 as an air pollutant in 2007. It is clear and undeniable that burning fossil fuels produces CO2, along with other noxious pollutants that poison our air and kill us by the millions.
Revenue-neutral taxation of CO2, as widely advocated by scientists and economists (including senior Republican statesmen and major energy companies), would effectively and fairly reduce many of the world’s most toxic pollutants and save our families from greater global harm than the current pandemic.
The Utah legislature wisely resolved in 2018 that we apply sound science to address our changing climate. Sound science and economics indicate that taxing CO2 will effectively reduce pollution and climate-related destruction through free market forces.