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Tax pollution, not rain

Chemical IndustryFertilizer

I feel the stormwater fee has failed to achieve its goal which is to reduce the pollution that makes it into the Chesapeake Bay ("Churches seek break on city stormwater fee," June 12). The current implementation of the stormwater fee unfairly fines those of us that are making investments in reducing pollution at the benefit of those that are not. For example, two people have identically sized lots. Person A has a lawn service dump fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides once a week on his lawn. Person B planted drought tolerant ground cover that does not require any chemicals at all. Both Person A and Person B pay the same stormwater fee regardless. There is no incentive for Person A to reduce his bad habits and Person B feels jaded for all his efforts to do the right thing. Businesses are not encouraged to clean up their acts either. Two identically-sized business properties would pay the same stormwater fee. Yet one could have a parking lot full of manure and coal while the other could contain brand new electric vehicles.

The end goal is to reduce the pollutants in the bay. The best method to accomplish this is by taxing the pollutants at the source. Just as cigarettes, liquor and other products have an additional tax upon them, pollutants should have a tax as well. As people have suggested a carbon tax on all things that produce carbon dioxide, I am proposing a pollution tax that would be based on the amounts of pollution in items that typically end up in the bay. This might include fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and automotive fluids like antifreeze and oils. The more toxic and concentrated the pollutant, the higher the tax.

How effective would the cigarette tax have been in reducing smoking if instead of taxing the cigarettes we equally taxed everyone for the wind that blew the smoke into other people's lungs? The stormwater is not to blame, it is the pollution that needs to be addressed.

Frank Smith, Glen Burnie

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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