Residents of the sole North American jurisdiction with a carbon tax don’t seem to mind their singular tax status, a new poll suggests.
The Pembina Institute reported on Thursday that 74 per cent of residents of British Columbia, where the provincial carbon tax gets another uptick today, believe either that the tax has been positive for the environment, or feel neutral about it.
The poll was conducted in April by Strategic Communications with a sample of 830 British Columbians, and bears a margin of error of 3.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
“According to the poll, the majority of British Columbians (69 per cent) are worried about climate change and most (70 per cent) want the province to continue showing leadership on the issue without waiting for other jurisdictions to take similar steps,” says a news release accompanying the poll.
By 2012, a typical motorist would pay about $140 (Canadian) more annually with the tax.
Writing for Minnpost, Steve Berg points out that most politicians seem to view the Stillwater bridge as a freeway-style-bridge versus no freeway-style-bridge proposition, even though there may be another alternative.
What might this new bridge look like?
As I wrote here on March 4, a new bridge should relieve Stillwater’s summertime traffic problems without inducing an excessive amount of sprawl development on the Wisconsin side of the river. Obviously, its design should not intrude on the historic and natural quality of the valley.
That means a so-called “low, slow” solution (PDF) — a bridge that wouldn’t span the river from bluff top to bluff top but drop down to a level more in scale with the existing Lift Bridge. Speeds (and noise) should be kept to a minimum. Engineers might consider a three-lane design that would allow east-west flexibility depending on traffic flow. The bridge should be dynamically tolled as a way to fairly shift costs to users and to help manage traffic buildup in the area.
The park service, in rejecting the freeway-style bridge, seemed almost to invite such a design while rejecting outright the freeway-style bridge that MnDOT proposed.
Note that Berg calls for “dynamic tolling” to shift the cost to users, manage traffic and assumedly reduce sprawl (not subsidize low-density development in Wisconsin). Other expert sources say a 4-lane bridge would not have enough demand to pay the tolls required to fund it, so I assume demand from a slower, narrower span would not generate enough in tolls to pay the cost. Perhaps this is why MNDOT has floated the idea of a $3 toll, which would only cover half of the construction cost (but would cover maintenance) of the bigger bridge.
Steve Berg compliments conservative politicians success at simplifying and demonizing the car-hating left to their political advantage. He makes his position clear (which I’m sure he shares with many urbanists):
In fact, I love to drive. The family road trip was a staple when the kids were small. I can easily recite the roads and distances between Washington, D.C., and Boston or the scenic detours between Minneapolis and San Francisco, then down the Coast Highway to San Diego. There’s nothing like the freedom of the open road.
But for me driving is a little like chocolate. It’s a wonderful indulgence that is easily overdone. When everyone drives a lot, things get out of hand: traffic congestion, air pollution, storm-water runoff, oil spills, greenhouse-gas emissions, oil dependence, foreign-policy complications that sometimes lead to wars, sprawled development, redundant infrastructure, drive-through lifestyles that lead to bad nutrition and obesity — all of these things can be laid, at least partially, on our need and desire to drive excessively.
The position us urbanists should all adopt:
Urbanists are accused of wanting to take away people’s cars and force them to live in tight quarters, but that’s absurd. Urban-style living isn’t for everyone. People should live where and how they want. What urbanists do favor, however, is a system of rules and prices that fairly reflect the costs of people’s decisions. Those who prefer to drive long distances and occupy large footprints should pay a fair cost. Those who choose smaller footprints shouldn’t be penalized by cumbersome rules or burdened by price systems that continue to reward inefficiency and heighten risks to the environment and to national security.
These don’t seem like elitist or radical positions to me. They seem reasonable and downright conservative, even patriotic. They pose no threat to personal liberty so far as I can see. Most important, they are proactive. I’d rather anticipate the future than try to recapture a past that’s already behind us.
A long-time advocate of the US auto industry and sometime climate change-lover John D. Dingell was ousted from the charimanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday. While this is possibly good news for new environmental legislation, it may signal more bad news for the Detroit-based auto industry. Something big will likely happen given the “change” mantra sweeping Washington, and as this is one important charimanship, according to NYT:
Many lawmakers and lobbyists consider the Energy and Commerce Committee to be the most influential panel in either house of Congress, one that handles, by some estimates, all or parts of two-thirds of the legislation moving through the House. Three committees in the Senate share jurisdiction over bills relating to energy, environment and commerce, all of which pass through the single House committee.
Outside the committee room is a huge NASA photograph of Earth taken from space. Mr. Dingell is fond of pointing to it in answer to questions about his committee’s jurisdiction.
The republicans are holding their convention at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul all next week. Venture into Saint Paul (or downtown Minneapolis) at your peril. I can’t wait to see the Daily Show coverage (obviously).