Repairs are just beginning for towns and cities in NH and across the region to recover from this summer’s extreme weather. It’s not yet clear who will fund recovery efforts–whether residents alone will foot the bill through increases on their property taxes, or if Gov. Sununu’s request for a federal emergency declaration will come through–which would distribute the financial burden more widely but still place the burden on taxpayers. Last year alone, catastrophic extreme weather and climate disasters cost the federal government $165 billion, or about 5% of the national deficit.
Meanwhile, the five largest oil companies made profits of over $200 billion and were only taxed 1.5-3% on their income. As an elected town official in New Hampshire, I’ve listened to residents’ concerns and made it one of our highest priorities to balance the budget and hold our tax rate flat. This will be extremely challenging to do when our town is inevitably hit by catastrophic extreme weather and climate disaster.
Which is why I was so disappointed at the July 17 No Labels event in Manchester when I asked Sen. Manchin and Gov. Huntsman if they thought common-sense means “you break it, you pay for it.” As in, just like the cigarette companies and PFAs polluters, fossil fuel companies should be the ones paying for climate disaster recovery efforts–not taxpayers. No Labels gave no details on how to lower the deficit and their avoidance of my question told me that when it comes to energy policy, they’re happy to keep giving federal dollars to corporate donors (like the coal company owned by Sen. Manchin’s family) while the “common-sense majority” continues to pay the bills. And the longer we remain reliant on fossil fuels, the more it will cost us taxpayers.