The rationale for the carbon fee is that consumers do not now pay for impacts of fossil fuel use through effects on health and climate change. Thousands in the U.S. die too young because of particulates and NOx from burning fossil fuel. Global warming is diminishing our mountain snowpack, raising sea level, and making weather more extreme. The costs of these impacts justify a price on fossil carbon.
Ideally, the revenue from such a fee would be used to compensate those impacted by fossil fuel, according to the impact. But quantifying and attributing the impact would be extremely complex and time-consuming. Moreover, many of the impacts will be felt by generations not yet born.
One alternative to attributable impact compensation would be to note that most people are compensated for illness, death and economic loss through insurance or federal relief (direct or by underwriting insurance), so all of us shoulder the burden of compensation. The revenue from a carbon fee should therefore be distributed to all. While some might argue that only taxpayers should be compensated, that would place an unfair burden on the poor, who often suffer the effects without compensation.
Steve Ghan, Richland