Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Syracuse Common Councilors Join National Effort to Levy a Carbon Fee

Scott Willis

Syracuse Common Councilors jumped aboard a larger national movement that would levy a carbon fee on fossil fuels and return that money to households. The Carbon Fee and Dividend climate change resolution, sponsored by councilor Joe Driscoll, would add a $15 fee to every ton of fossil fuel. He said that figure is based on the environmental costs of CO2 emitted by the fuel.

“We currently do the opposite of what we should be doing in my opinion. We subsidize and help fossil fuels to get a stronger foothold in the competitive market, while making it more difficult for renewables to get that similar footing,” said Driscoll. “This would be a way to implement market changes that would help fight climate change, help renewables get that foothold, and make them more competitive in the market.”

Driscoll said the fee would be progressive, increasing by $10 a ton each year.

“Fossil companies, like other companies, have the right to exist and the right to make profits.  But with that right comes the responsibility to take care of the environment in the long term way, and I think this levels the playing field.” 

The resolution was pushed by the Citizens Climate Lobby and was aimed at President Trump, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and Congressmember John Katko. Driscoll said he met with Katko recently, who calls himself an environmentalist.

“I see this as a bipartisan issue. Many of the members of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, as a national organization, are conservatives, are republicans, and self-identify as such. It would be great if he [Katko] would take us up on this. The market has shown that it’s not factoring in the long term cost to our natural resources and our environment. We have to develop some kind of legislation,” said Driscoll.

Driscoll was optimistic that Katko will consider championing the idea as a member of the problem solvers caucus. Councilors approved a non-binding resolution by an eight to one vote, with Joe Carni as the lone holdout.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at