Who Owns The Sky? We All Do -- And Polluters Should Pay Us For Dumping There by Ann Hancock The "Sky Trust" is a free-market approach to reducing air pollution that has an interesting dividend: annual payments to all U.S. citizens. Such 'sky rent' could put a $1,000 check in your pocket each year.
http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm?ID=4973 TOMPAINE.com - Who Owns The Sky? We All Do -- And Polluters Should Pay Us For Dumping There Ann Hancock is a sustainability educator who lives in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco. Steven Rosenfeld produced this piece. The White House doesn't need Enron to show its true loyalties on energy. Whatever's best for energy companies' profits suits their definition of public policy. How else to explain the recent Bush proposal rolling back clean air standards by 30 years? Or its announcement that new or expanding power plants needn't install the latest anti-air pollution devices? It's payback time for Bush's energy friends and funders, plain and simple. Such favoritism is bad from an environmental perspective. It's also bad economics. But it is possible to reduce air pollution using the marketplace. It is possible for private companies to follow their profit-making instincts and still make money while reducing global warming emissions. How is that, you might ask? It's all laid out in a brilliant book by Peter Barnes titled Who Owns The Sky, describing an idea called the Sky Trust. Who owns the sky? The answer is obvious. It's everybody. In public policy terms, it's called "public trust," based on a legal doctrine that declares that the state holds certain resources in trust for its citizens -- like national parks. With this as a starting point, Barnes, the founder of Working Assets, suggests that we consider carbon emissions just like any other commodity. Polluters such as power plants would pay to discharge into the sky, similar to the effective system now used to limit U.S. sulfur emissions. Polluters could use alternative technologies and pay less, or not at all. And where would the money go that's been collected? Into an account that's returned to citizens, the Sky Trust. This notion is not far-fetched. In Alaska, where oil companies have been drilling on state and federal lands -- public lands -- a similar dividend accrues to residents. Last year the Alaska Permanent Fund paid citizens about $2,000 each. What Alaskans do with oil, Americans can do with sky. Annual sky rent could equal about $386 billion, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, enough for each American to receive a $1,000 check every year. Congressional analysts like the Sky Trust idea, too. The Congressional Budget Office studied various approaches for reducing greenhouse gases, and concluded that the Sky Trust's cap-and-trade approach is the best. Every year Congress would establish a limit on the amount of allowable greenhouse gas, and the Sky Trust would auction off the rights to pollute. As the allowable emissions were gradually reduced, the price would go up, and so would each American's annual dividend. And just in case anyone needs reminding, news about climate change is very troubling. Last decade was the warmest on record. Sea levels rose about 8 to 12 inches during the last century, recently forcing thousands of residents of Tuvalu, a tiny spot in the Pacific Ocean, to leave their island home. To avert the worst of global warming, predominant scientific opinion says that we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide by at least 60 percent. Compare this figure with the 5.2 percent cut called for in the Kyoto Treaty signed two months ago by 180 nations, every major nation except the United States. Clearly, a new approach is badly needed. Barnes is setting up a turnkey Sky Trust complete with board of directors, ready for the public, Congress, and the President to implement. All Congress must do is pass a law creating the Sky Trust. America would curb its fossil fuel appetite. Those who use the most would pay, and those who use the least would be rewarded. Our children's children would inherit a habitable Earth. The Sky Trust reflects American capitalism at its finest. To learn more, and to get a free, non-transferable Certificate of Ownership representing your share of sky, visit www.skyowners.org. Published: Jan 14 2002 ------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor ---------------------~--> Tiny Wireless Camera under $80! Order Now! FREE VCR Commander! Click Here - Only 1 Day Left! http://us.click.yahoo.com/WoOlbB/7.PDAA/ySSFAA/FGYolB/TM ---------------------------------------------------------------------~-> Biofuel at Journey to Forever: http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel.html Please do NOT send "unsubscribe" messages to the list address. To unsubscribe, send an email to: [EMAIL PROTECTED] Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/