Our Work

UVM Class Looks at Green Taxes

Some problems defy the traditional regulatory cure. We have learned after more than three decades that command-and-control strategies are not the only solution for cleaning up our environment or strengthening our economy. Our fish still contain mercury that threatens unborn children. Each year more farmland is lost to sprawl development that also threatens the vitality of our downtowns. Vermont’s air quality suffers from increased vehicle usage and over reliance on fossil fuels, while alternative sources of clean, renewable energy sit right at our fingertips. And, our economic policies emphasize the number, not the quality or impact, of the jobs we create.

Isn’t it time to look seriously at other ways to solve these pressing problems?

Why not complement regulation by harnessing taxes and other market-based incentives that allow businesses and communities to find the best solution for problems facing the environment and the economy?

Today only about 10 percent of Vermont’s state revenue is derived from what might be considered environmentally-friendly taxes and fees.

Is it possible to shift our policies to target taxes at sources of air and water pollution, waste and urban sprawl and eliminate subsidies that harm the environment, while reducing taxes and providing market-based incentives to support high quality employment and clean energy sources?

Students in the University of Vermont’s Master in Public Administration Program at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics think so. They have been working with their instructor, Gary Flomenhoft, Gund Institute’s Research Associate, the Vermont Fair Tax Coalition (VFTC) and others to address these issues and to help update the VFTC’s 1999 report – “Tax Reform that Agrees with Vermont.”

For more information about the Vermont Fair Tax Coalition, contact Steve Holmes at VNRC 223-2328 or sholmes@vnrc.org.

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*The Vermont Fair Tax Coalition was founded in 1998 by Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility – Research and Education Foundation, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Public Interest Research Group and Friends of the Earth to focus on reforms to the Vermont tax system to encourage a stronger economy, fairer tax system, and healthier environment. The Coalition explores and promotes reforms that eliminate subsidies for environmentally destructive activities, reduce regressive and distorting taxes, and increase taxes on pollution and waste. Today the Coalition has grown to include over 60 businesses and organizations.