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In the near future, Oregon may enact a carbon tax, and Yoram Bauman, who calls himself a stand-up economist, plans to tell a Bend audience on Monday why he thinks it’s a good idea.
“If you have higher taxes on things you want less of, like pollution, you can have lower taxes on things you want more of, like jobs and investment,” said Bauman, who performs economic comedy.
During his appearance at the Volcanic Theatre Pub, he plans to address the effect a carbon tax, similar to one implemented in British Columbia, Canada, in 2008, could have on Oregon — with a sense of humor.
About 10 years ago, Bauman said, he read a parody of an economics textbook, which led to his current career. In addition to stand-up comedy, he has co-authored cartoon economics books and worked as a teacher.
“It’s definitely not the traditional route for someone who was in graduate school for five years,” said Bauman, who has a Ph.D. in economics.
In March, Portland State University released a study, “Carbon Tax And Shift: How to make it work for Oregon’s Economy,” written by the Northwest Economic Research Center. The report analyzed the impact of placing a price on carbon emissions and found a carbon tax could reduce income taxes and provide new revenue opportunities for the state.
Jana Gastellum, program director for climate protection for the Portland-based Oregon Environmental Council, said the Legislature passed a carbon tax study bill last year to analyze the impact a carbon tax would have on 70 different sectors of the economy. The study is scheduled to be released in November.
“If you design a carbon tax the right way, you can see benefits to Oregon’s economy,” Gastellum said. “When you have something that damages your economy that goes unpriced, putting a price on it can correct it.”
She does not believe carbon-tax legislation will be proposed in the Legislature this year, but the discussion will continue in preparation for the 2015 session.
The Oregon Environmental Council is putting on the event in conjunction with Northwest Friends of the Union of Concerned Scientists and The Environmental Center in Bend.
Mike Riley, executive director of The Environmental Center, said the organization is starting to look more at how it can help the community reduce its carbon footprint, make it aware of the issue and understand bigger-picture, bigger-scale solutions like a carbon tax.
“This is a big global problem, but there’s really strong local components to it, because in the end, the carbon emissions not only come from power plants, but the cars that we drive, the choices we make, what we eat and where it comes from.”