Letter: Tax landfills

Published: 3/16/2023 7:00:12 AM

One of the original ideas for fighting climate change was to have a carbon fee and rebate system where you would tax fossil fuels and thereby raise the price, but return the revenues back to the citizens. It would be revenue neutral but it would discourage fossil fuel use and encourage renewable energy. The idea was widely applauded by economists but couldn’t gain enough political traction to be implemented. I am wondering if the same idea could be applied to New Hampshire’s landfill problem.

Waste comes into New Hampshire from out-of-state because land is cheaper here than in southern New England and cheaper land means cheaper landfills. Cheap tipping fees provide very little incentive to recycle. If we put an extremely high tax on landfill waste, from both in-state and out-of-state, that would make it more expensive to dump here and that would solve the out-of-state waste problem. We could take all of the revenue and return it to the towns on a per capita basis for school aid. All New Hampshire towns would come out ahead until the out-of-state waste and revenue dried up. After that, towns that had high recycling rates would come out ahead, towns in the middle would break even, and towns with low rates would lose out. The net effect would be that out-of-state waste would disappear and New Hampshire towns would have strong economic incentives to reduce their waste streams.

Stephen Rasche



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