I have been thinking about Portland’s proposed Carbon Shadow Tax, and I am concerned. I am concerned that we as a society continue placing flat monetary values on the health of our environment, and in turn that of all living beings.
Living in an apartment building that contains lead, and is being improperly renovated, I have first-hand experience of business blatantly disregarding my health, as well as federal laws. As they said themselves: “It’s a risk-benefit analysis. What is the city going to do to catch me? How? And if they do, what…fine me $1,000? So what?”
We cannot afford to allow others to come to these same conclusions. We cannot find it permissible to poison our earth and people…as long as the price is right. As long as it makes business sense. We cannot allow the loopholes to grow so large, and the level of oversight and accountability so low that even our meager attempts to protect our communities health are able to be gleefully ignored.
Carbon shadow pricing is a good first step, but we need to do better. We need to do better starting now. This can be done by closing current loopholes, and adding things such as higher fines for greater amounts of pollution. We can look at adding other requirements alongside fines, such as bracketed tax levels tied to required remedial environmental projects, with clearly outlined and enforced accountability and public oversight. The health of my body and of our communities cannot be placed for sale, and the process of this tax cannot go unseen.
What is the price of a livable planet?