Green Jobs -- Newest Bait for Tax Scams?
Species' extinction threat grows
Extinction is a question of habitat which in turn is a question of land use (human habitat). When humans use land efficiently, they leave enough for other species. Humans do use land efficiently when they must pay site rent to their communities. This public recovery of natural rents, in lieu of taxes on our efforts, is the policy of geonomics, which precludes loopholes of any sort, including those excused for “green” reasons. We trim, blend, and append two 2009 articles from (1) the BBC, Nov 3 on extinction and (2) MLEE, Nov 9 on green jobs, an update from Clawback.
by BBC and by Clawback
Species' extinction threat grows
Out of the 47,677 species in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 17,291 were deemed to be at serious risk.
These included 21% of all known mammals, 30% of amphibians, 70% of plants and 35% of invertebrates.
Conservationists warned that not enough was being done to tackle the main threats, such as habitat loss.
"The scientific evidence of a serious extinction crisis is mounting," warned Jane Smart, director of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Biodiversity Conservation Group.
"The latest analysis... shows that the 2010 target to reduce biodiversity loss will not be met," she added.
"It's time for governments to start getting serious about saving species and make sure it's high on their agendas for next year, as we are rapidly running out of time."
The Red List, regarded as the most authoritative assessment of the state of the planet's species, draws on the work of thousands of scientists around the globe.
The latest update lists amphibians as the most seriously affected group of organisms on the planet, with 1,895 of the 6,285 known species listed as threatened.
Of these, it lists 39 species as either "extinct" or "extinct in the wild". A further 484 are deemed "critically endangered", 754 "endangered" and 657 "vulnerable".
The Kihansi Spray Toad (Nectophyrnoides asperginis) is one species that has seen its status change from critically endangered to extinct in the wild.
It was only found in the Kihamsi Falls area of Tanzania, but its population had crashed in recent years from a high of an estimated 17,000 individuals.
Conservationists suggest that the rapid decline was primarily the result of a dam being constructed upstream from the toads' habitat, which resulted in a 90% reduction in the flow of water.
"In our lifetime, we have gone from having to worry about a relatively small number of highly threatened species to the collapse of entire ecosystems," observed Professor Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation programs at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
"At what point will society truly respond to this growing crisis?"
JJS: Society’s response of caring for nature gets turned into an excuse for granting tax breaks to corporations supposedly improving the environment.
Green Jobs: Newest Bait for Tax Scams?
Evidence from Oregon suggests that “green jobs” have become the hot new bait for corporate tax scams wrapped in the sheep’s clothing of economic development incentives.
“State lowballed cost of green tax breaks,” blared The Oregonian last weekend, reporting that the state’s Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC, known as “Betsy”) is costing the state 40 times what legislators were told when Gov. Kulongoski urged that BETC’s cap per project be drastically increased.
“State officials deliberately underestimated the cost,” the paper reported. An analyst with the state’s Department of Energy said he was told to “keep [the cost projection] conservative.” Instead of $4.1 million, costs are now projected at $167 for this two-year budget and $243 million for the next.
BETC is a lavish investment credit worth 50 percent of the cost of building a renewable energy facility, up to $10 million, and $20 million for a solar project.
The credits are salable, with the state setting the prices and finding “pass-through partners.” One company, Solar World, sold $11 million worth of credits to Wal-Mart for $7.37 million, giving Wal-Mart a 49 percent rate of return over five years.
State Senator Ginny Burdick tried to curtail the credits, but Gov. Kulongoski vetoed her bill. “This very, very worthy program has become one of the most blatant corporate welfare programs I’ve ever seen,” she said.
Chuck Sheketoff at the Oregon Center for Public Policy said, “very profitable companies and wealthy individuals with tax liabilities are getting a guaranteed return on investment while the typical Oregonian sees his savings depleted.”
Here’s another suggestion: States routinely grant property tax abatements to owners of buildings. So abate taxes on new or existing buildings that must conform to green building standards. Retrofitting to the Green Building Council’s “LEED-EB” standard (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design--Existing Building) pays for itself in just one to three years. Adobe’s headquarters retrofit paid for itself in 10 months, and Harvard University’s revolving loan fund for retrofits returned an eye-popping 35 percent!
JJS: So why not de-tax all buildings? Let owners improve as much as they want, for any reason, even say, esthetic design. If at the same time you de-tax buildings you recover the rental value of locations, you’ll spur landowners to make all kinds of improvements good for the ecosystem and the economy.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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