Idahoans should be extremely concerned about long-term economic impacts of global climate change on our state’s economy. Numerous climate models indicate that reductions in seasonal snowpack and spring runoff will occur throughout the northwestern U.S. over the next 50 years. This hydrologic change is projected to increase forest fires, increase drought, negatively impact our fisheries and force farmers to transition to lower yield, drought-tolerant crops.
Idaho’s economy is uniquely positioned to benefit from a recent proposal by renowned conservative economists George Schultz and Gary Becker to implement a national revenue-neutral carbon tax. The proposal would return revenue directly back to U.S. citizens; disproportionately increasing discretionary spending power of lower income groups such as Idaho households. The proposal would make fossil fuel based energy more expensive and increase competitiveness of states with strong renewable energy portfolios, such as Idaho. Finally, the proposal would result in a decrease in U.S. carbon emissions without the need for executive mandates, subsidies, cap and trade or other “big-government” measures, appealing to Idaho’s conservative voters. As agreements are reached in the Paris COP21 climate summit, Idahoans should consider climate change measures that will benefit us directly while also addressing this global issue.
Austin Zinsser, Boise