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Oil Industry Must Pay for Its Waste

Air pollution. (Photo via Shutterstock )

Air pollution. (Photo: <a href= via Shutterstock )” width=”308″ height=”432″ />Air pollution. (Photo via Shutterstock )Tomorrow, President Obama will deliver a speech on climate change at Georgetown University, which, according to the White House, will outline the president’s “vision for a comprehensive plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it.”

In tomorrow’s speech, it’s expected that the president will announce new emissions rules for existing power plants in the country.

This could be a big deal, because existing power plants in the U.S. account for nearly 40 percent of all carbon emissions in the country. The new standards expected to be unveiled would, for all practical purposes, signal the beginning of the end of conventional coal-fired power in America.

And, while that’s a great start, and a move that is sorely needed, if President Obama really wants to do what’s necessary to save our planet, he needs to propose a carbon tax.

Right now, the fossil fuel industry is the only industry in America that doesn’t pay to have its waste disposed of. That waste is known as carbon dioxide.

As a result, you and I are forced to pay the costs for their waste; costs that come in the form of massive disaster cleanup efforts, species loss across the world, and possibly even the eventual extinction of most life on Earth.

In an interview with Jeff Goodell for Rolling Stone magazine, Professor Harold Wanless, the chair of the University of Miami’s geological sciences department, said that if we continue to do nothing to fight the devastating effects of climate change, the city of Miami could be completely devastated.

Wanless said that thanks to climate change and rising ocean levels, Miami is on its way to becoming the American version of the lost city of Atlantis.

The professor went on to say that, “Miami, as we know it today, is doomed.”

And Miami isn’t just some isolated cautionary tale on the effects of global warming and climate change.

All across our nation, climate change is already having disastrous effects on cities and communities, and those effects will continue to get worse if we continue to do nothing. Miami won’t be the only city under water.

Some way of accounting for the real costs of carbon is desperately needed if we want to have any hope of combatting the greatest threat that this planet has ever faced.

Meanwhile, while we’re paying the costs for the fossil fuel industry’s waste, the industry is shelling out millions to lawmakers in Washington, in attempts to ensure that they are never forced to pay for their own waste cleanup.

But it won’t be easy.

Oil and gas companies have doled out more than $238 million to political candidates and parties since 1990, and of that $238 million, 75% has gone to Republicans.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in the 2011-2012 election cycle, Big Oil giant Chevron Corporation spent more than $3.8 million on campaign donations, while ExxonMobil spent another $2.7 million.

And, to make matters even worse, Big Oil benefits from over $4 billion in tax breaks each year, and estimates suggest that annual fossil fuel industry subsidies range anywhere from $10 billion to $52 billion annually.

The easiest way to stop this damage to our planet is by introducing a carbon tax.

As soon as a carbon tax is applied, all of the clean and green energy alternatives to fossil fuels become economically viable, while fossil fuels become more expensive.

As a result, the fossil fuel industry will almost be forced to invest in cleaner and greener forms of energy, in order to stay in business.

Imposing a carbon tax is nothing new either.

The European Union has had a carbon market in place since 2005, and China is working feverishly to establish a national carbon emissions cap and trade program.

In fact, that nation just launched its first carbon cap and trade program in the highly industrialized city of Shenzhen.

The stakes are high: The fate of planet Earth versus money from the fossil fuel industry.

So, Mr. President, when you take to the stage tomorrow at Georgetown, if you are truly serious about addressing the issues of climate change and global warming, and are serious about leading the world in combatting this growing threat, than you need to propose a carbon tax, and put an end to this nation’s toxic addiction to fossil fuels.

Let’s put the interests of Big Oil aside, and put a price on carbon to help preserve the future of the only planet we are able to call home.

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