Sierra Club Seeks Tax Hikes to Fight Greenhouse Effect

Times Environmental Writer

Sierra Club California said Wednesday that it will mount a major effort to raise gasoline taxes for everyone and registration fees and sales taxes on “gas-guzzling” vehicles as part of a wide-ranging strategy to place the state in the forefront of efforts to minimize predicted global environmental perils such as the greenhouse effect.

Club officials said that global warming scenarios for California that envision a significant rise in sea level, flooding along the coast in inland deltas, droughts, the loss of forests and the extinction of many plant and animal species are reason enough to take action.

They said the tax hikes would not only discourage the use of inefficient motor vehicles, but would also help underwrite costs of mass transit, conversion to cleaner-burning fuels, low-income transportation subsidies, and the planting of trees and other vegetation to help ward off the worst effects of the global warming. Sales taxes under the plan would be calculated on a sliding scale, with the highest levies assessed against the least fuel-efficient vehicles.

The legislative strategy also calls for adding automobile air conditioners to the state’s Smog Check vehicle emission inspection and maintenance program to look for leaks of environmentally damaging refrigerants.


“As the sixth-largest economy in the world, California cannot wait for others to take action. We should take the lead to prepare our economy for the changes which must take place,” Sierra Club California--the 170,000-member state branch of the national environmental organization--said in a report to be officially released today.

Many of the proposals are politically controversial and have not always met with legislative success in the past, particularly tax increases. But a growing number of environmentalists and lawmakers alike see the predicted global calamities as a rationale for pushing ahead on a number of old causes.

The proposals include tougher energy efficiency standards for buildings and home appliances, stepped-up reforestation efforts, water conservation, and a greater commitment to mass transportation and cleaner-burning fuels.