Letter to the county

To: Councilmembers@kauai.gov

Dear Honorable Kauai Council Members,

Many people I talk to in Kauai want to protect our island, reduce traffic congestion, and help stop global warming, but they feel helpless because their personal efforts are not matched by others, so they do nothing.

However if they felt that everyone was going to join together, and the burden of these challenges were going to be shared equally and fairly by all, I believe they would willingly pitch in to help solve these important issues.

The proposal to you below seeks to help address Kauai’s road issues, and protect our island by helping to stop global warming, and does these both at the same time!

Dr. James Hansen, Former head of NASA Goddard Space Science Lab, introduces this basic idea in this short interview in Paris at December’s COP21 (“Conference of Parties” gathering of world leaders to address the climate change challenge), which you can either watch or read here:  http://www.democracynow.org/2015/12/4/climate_scientist_james_hansen_warns_world.  Note, he calls it a “A carbon fee and dividend” but the idea is the same, and only the name has been revised below.

An iClimateCredit for Kauai
(where “i” is for island)

iClimateCredit is a new idea that seeks to fairly reward good energy behavior and gets everyone in the game under one tent.  For example, people who combine driving trips, thereby reducing congestion, and thus helping to protect the earth, will be rewarded financially.

However those who choose to drive lots, alone, and in a gas guzzler will get a disincentive to continue that behavior.

iClimateCredit is revenue neutral or generates no new money for government.

Instead we all pay an extra deposit at the pump when you buy gas.  What is collected is then later 100% refunded to the public.  Yearly it is divided equally on a per-capita basis and sent as a check to all residents of driving age or older.

People who help reduce gridlock with less driving (no matter how they do it) come out ahead.  For example, to avoid extra trips we can all make a better shopping lists, or ride the bus sometimes, or sometimes car pool, etc.  It’s a new level playing field where those who use carbon fuel pay more, and all those who use less get rewarded.

It helps naturally lessen congestion, and gives us a chance to stop global warming, and lessens road wear and tear at the same time.

A friend pointed out that the iClimateCredit is similar to the bottle bill, in that it incentivizes good behavior.

iClimateCredit also gives tourists an incentive to drive less, and because credits are limited to residents, tourist trips make all yearly credit checks to residents bigger.

The current 0.5% GET tax increase proposal sounds like not much, but it’s really 12.5% more tax that we pay now; or equal to 0.5% divided by 4.0%.  Also the GET tax hopes a few will ride the bus to save the earth and lessen congestion, but there is no real incentive for people to ride the bus, their bike or even to drive a little less with the GET tax bill.  So while this GET tax might temporarily fix a little of the congestion with some new road projects, sadly before long, roads will surly gridlock again.  I think the GET tax increase is really pro-dinosaur-juice, when we have global warming dead-ahead and need to seriously re-think our future.

I think this is better than the GET tax idea.  You could say it’s the modified version, or it’s the “GETS”, because we all getS it back.

While I admire the people who have worked hard to put the GET tax increase idea forward, let’s face it, in a warming world as carbon dioxide builds up, it’s a dinosaur’s idea.  Most everyone gets it that we need to drive internal combustion engine cars less.  We need to encourage alternative energy.  We need to use less blacktop made from oil.

But hoping a few will ride the bus to save the rest of us is not a solution that will save us.

Malama i ka ‘Aina: take care of the land,

— Howard Johnson
Kahana St,  Kapa’a

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