Quebec Approves Carbon Tax on Fuels to Cut Greenhouse Gases

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Quebec will become the first Canadian province to impose a carbon tax on energy producers. Bloomberg reports:

The provincial cabinet approved the tax in Quebec City yesterday, according to a statement on the Natural Resources Ministry Web site. Refiners including Valero Energy Corp.'s Ultramar unit and Royal Dutch Shell Plc's Canadian unit will start paying a tax of 0.8 cent a liter on gasoline and 0.9 cent on diesel on Oct. 1. Power producers such as state-owned Hydro- Quebec and gas companies will also be taxed.

"Everyone is talking about the environment; everyone wants to play their part," Natural Resources Minister Claude Bechard told reporters in Quebec City yesterday. "Well, the oil companies too have to play their part."

The province will direct proceeds from the tax to a "green fund" that will invest in commuter rail networks and other forms of mass transit.

Bechard said he expects that the companies will absorb the higher costs, though he "can't guarantee" that producers and refiners won't pass them on to consumers. The tax is based on the "polluter pays" principle. "That is not negotiable," the minister said.

Charles Komanoff of the Carbon Tax Center (and Streetsblog), while hailing the tax as a positive step, notes that it's extremely small, equating to little more than 1% of the tax level that CTC proposes the U.S. phase in over a ten-year period.

Photo: _EM/Flickr