Who Should Pay for the Cost of Pollution? (worksheets)

The Mohave Power Station, a 1,580 MW coal power station in Nevada, has been out of service since 2005 due to environmental restrictions. CREDIT: Kjkolb (CC)

Who should pay for the cost of pollution? Corporations, the government, consumers, and/or the general public? A variety of subsidies, taxes, and regulatory policies and proposals have attempted to make the best out of a dirty situation.

Carnegie Council provides two activities that asks students how best to deal with pollution from a government and economic standpoint.

Option 1: Students read the short attached excerpt from former South Carolina congressman Bob Inglis, who proposes a conservative, free market solution to help mitigate climate change. Students then postulate: How feasible is his approach? Why would some Republicans and Libertarians agree with his logic? How would his proposal apply to the 2018 Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) coal rules that are estimated by the Trump administration to cause between 470 to 1,400 more premature deaths? This activity takes a more political approach and would fit well in a government class.

Option 2 (Pair Work): Students will split up the attached readings with one analyzing the aforementioned Bob Inglis excerpt and the other is assigned a short excerpt from environmental economist Gernot Wagner. In pairs, students will share their findings and then determine which speaker's argument is better. How would the two approaches respond to the new coal rules?

The full 2017 Bob Inglis talk can be found here. The full 2011 Gernot Wagner talk can be found here