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The Charge in Clinton's Energy Tax

Regarding the Opinion page article "Proposed Energy Tax Is a Catch-22," March 5: Out of the author's six arguments, only two are reasonable. The author questions the need to reduce our energy consumption.

He states that "some scientists suggest increased atmospheric carbon dioxide ... would be highly beneficial to agricultural productivity." This is the same as arguing that escalating the arms race would create jobs in the military-industrial sector and is good for the economy. However, scientists concur that negative consequences of global warming outweigh benefits, even in the agricultural sector.

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The author maintains that the energy tax will make people poorer and less capable of coping with environmental issues. He misses a fundamental point - most of the pollution stems from the industrial sector and cannot be solved at the household level. He also argues that people in areas like Montana, without pollution problems, will benefit less than people in smog-stricken Los Angeles. This view is shortsighted. Pollution knows no borders. Martin Miszczak, Chicago

Clinton's broad-based energy tax proposal appears to be an equitable way to obtain revenue without harming economic recovery. But it is just the opposite. Our calculations indicate that an energy tax of this size over five years will reduce the nation's gross domestic product by $170 billion and cost Americans some 600,000 jobs. This tax will raise the cost of gasoline and jet fuel by 10 cents to 15 cents a gallon and inflate the price of consumer goods needing energy for production or transportation. Th e struggling airline industry will be hit hard, along with poor and middle-income families. US exports will be more expensive and less competitive. Jobs in the Midwest, South, and West will be hit especially hard because their industrial and agricultural operations are energy-intensive. A European-style value added tax (VAT) is the best approach. This broad-based consumption tax would spread the burden uniformly and not penalize particular businesses or regions. VAT is rebated on exports and levied on impor ts, and it will not destroy jobs. William F. O'Keefe, Washington Executive Vice President, American Petroleum Institute

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