Where Did All the Money Go?|
1997 July 21|
The US chemical industry has received a huge subsidy in the form of toxic waste cleanup. Nobody knows the ultimate cost of the cleanup, or even what is actually involved. It is clear, however, that it is going to be very expensive.
The principle of direct accountability should be applied to this problem. Wherever possible, those responsible for the pollution must be required to clean it up. When it is not possible to identify the culprit, the industry as a whole should pay for the cleanup through a tax on the consumption of chemical feedstocks. The tax would, of course, be passed on to the end-user but would encourage frugal use of feedstocks, which is in itself an ecological benefit.
The tax would also encourage the industry to police itself and "turn in a dumper." The establishment of a byproduct exchange could help reduce the waste problem by finding users for waste products. The feedstocks used in the making of these byproducts would already have been taxed, so there would be a powerful incentive to find productive uses for wastes.