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Citizen-Sponsored Carbon Tax Initiative Proposes Huge Overhauls To State Tax Laws

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The Clean the Darn Air Initiative is civilian-proposed legislation aimed at providing resources to state facilities to clean Utah’s air pollution. Yoram Bauman holds a PhD in economics and is a co-founder of the initiative.

“It is a clean air and climate measure, so the policy we’re working on is $100 million a year for clean air," he said. "It’s one of the top things that people talk about when they say why they don’t like living in Utah. There are a lot of things to like about Utah, but the air pollution is at the top of the list of things of things that people don’t like. And there’s things that we can do about it if we had more resources.”

But Bauman also explained the bill’s other features, which include plans to help rural Utah economically and making dramatic changes to the state’s tax laws.

“So the bill puts $100 million a year towards cleaning the darn air, and then there’s another $50 million towards rural economic development because in addition to having these air pollution problems there are economic struggles in rural Utah, and around the country," he said. "And then the measure also does some long-needed tax reform like eliminating the store tax on grocery food. And where does the money come from for all that? It comes from a tax on fossil fuels, which is the main cause both of local air pollution and global climate change. The basic idea behind the clean the darn air measure is that we’re going to tax pollution instead of taxing potatoes, and then we’re going to take the money that’s left over and use it to clean the darn air."

Bauman claimed that even though consumers would likely end up footing the bill for the fossil fuel tax in the way of higher gas and electricity prices, they’d benefit from eliminating the grocery store tax to counteract that. The initiative’s founders are currently collecting signatures to get it on the 2020 ballot, however, so it’s not officially proposed legislation yet.