A recent letter (July 28) calls for gasoline rationing, as in World War II, to address climate change.
Absolutely, climate change requires decisive action befitting a national emergency. Absolutely, the first step is to limit the carbon dioxide emissions caused by consumption of fossil fuels.
The problem is that gasoline rationing is costly and unfair.
It does not limit greenhouse-gas emissions from other oil products, natural gas and coal. It introduces a new and complex government program.
The program must grapple with how to distribute the limited gasoline across big and small demanders. Presumably, everyone would receive the same number of ration coupons, but those coupons could be traded, establishing a premium on which low demanders could make money and high demanders could satisfy their urgent needs. Otherwise, the scheme would be inefficient and unfair.
A carbon fee and dividend policy would tax fossil fuels in proportion to their carbon dioxide content and return the revenue equally to every household. This policy works very much like an efficient and fair ration of gasoline: It sets a price (or premium) for carbon dioxide pollution, it gives everyone the same dollars in coupons (or dividends) and it is guaranteed to limit consumption to the desired level. However, it covers all fuels, requires no complex administration and is efficient and fair in its distribution of the sacrifice of reducing fuel consumption.
Ask your senators to support a carbon fee and dividend policy and to price carbon in the infrastructure reconciliation bill.