The mayor’s proposed heating-oil tax is more symbolic than helpful.
To penalize people who heat their homes with heating oil an additional 24 cents per gallon will do little to save the environment. Switching to electricity may sound wise, but much of the electricity produced or used in the Northwest has come at a large cost environmentally. There is no free lunch when it comes to energy.
Electricity-producing dams are at the crux of the loss of salmon habitat in the Northwest and what will most likely be the extinction of the southern orca population. Additionally, a large amount of electricity in the Northwest is transmitted from a coal-fired plant in Montana. Wind and solar may be our future, but at the present time they provide a very small percentage of electricity to the Northwest power grid.
One has to ask what is next, a luxury tax on living space above some mayor-determined threshold? The question becomes one of individual carbon use and eventually its allocation, which I predict will get messy. What is the true carbon footprint of a 1,500-square-foot-home heating with fuel oil compared to a 10,000-square-foot dwelling built with “green construction” technology?
John M. Stone, Seattle