Robert Reich — former Clinton Secretary of Labor, current economics public policy prof at Harvard — was on public radio’s Marketplace yesterday, stumping for 100 percent permit auctions and even, toward the end, something that sounds like cap-and-dividend:

Our atmosphere belongs to all of us, and polluters should have to pay to use it. The citizens of Alaska and Alberta, Canada get yearly dividends from the oil companies that take away their natural resources. Why shouldn’t the same principle apply when industries use the biggest common resource of all? The money they pay for permits could be returned as yearly dividends to every American family.

Now, it stands to reason that if polluters have to pay for the right to pollute, some of these costs might be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. But the yearly dividend checks would offset any price increases.

He’s sort of lumping in auctions and dividends (I bet Peter doesn’t mind!), but it’s great to see this dialogue getting out in the public. At least the public radio-listening public.

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