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Articles by Charles Komanoff

Charles Komanoff is the co-founder of the Carbon Tax Center. For more information, click here.

All Articles

  • Pollution taxes work

    The Environmental Defense Fund’s Fred Krupp threw down the gauntlet to carbon taxers in the Wall Street Journal last month: Environmental taxes have worked well to raise revenue, but without a cap they inevitably become a license to pollute in unlimited amounts. No air pollution problem has ever been solved except by imposing a legal […]

  • Energy boss Steven Chu misses his bike

    I’m a fierce carbon tax advocate, as Grist readers know. But what most upset me about the interview with Stephen Chu in last Sunday’s New York Times magazine wasn’t the energy secretary’s disavowal of an Obama carbon tax: Q: Many environmentalists believe that a permanent carbon tax would be the most efficient means of spurring […]

  • Anti-wind now not just for NIMBY’s

    Opposition to wind power used to be the province of NIMBY’s who quailed at the supposed intrusion into their viewsheds and soundsheds. No more. Wind power is big — its share of U.S. electricity reached 1.3% last year — and getting bigger fast enough to alarm the Far Right and other feeders at the trough […]

  • The Kheel-Komanoff Plan: A congestion toll to liberate New York

    Back in 1993, I took a scalpel to the "AUTO-FREE NEW YORK" sticker on my bike, excising the first "R" so that "AUTO-FREE" became "AUTO-FEE." After years of battling motor vehicles, first as an urban cyclist and later as president of the bike-advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, I became convinced that it made more sense to charge for cars' use of roads than to try to eliminate them. "Don't ban cars, bill them!" Discourage vehicle use by internalizing the harms from driving in the price to drive, and invest the revenues in mass transit and other alternatives.

    Since then, cities like London, Stockholm, and Milan have demonstrated the power of road pricing to reduce driving and cut travel times, pollution damages, crash costs, and the like. But even those gains pale beside the profusion of benefits for New York City promised by a new plan I've developed with Ted Kheel:

    • Enough revenue to finance an average 60 percent cut in transit fares;
    • A 15 percent-or-greater improvement in traffic speeds in gridlocked Manhattan;
    • Yogi Berra made real: greater usage of less-crowded buses and subways;
    • More car-free spaces, and fewer cars, in the heart of the city.

    The Kheel-Komanoff Plan (so named to distinguish it from the "pure" Kheel Plan approach, with 100 percent-free transit) delivers all this with just four measures: