They're called externalities or externalized costs. When the provision of a particular good or service, such as energy, has impacts on, say, the environment and public health, it is inaccurate to exclude these costs from the pricing of the good or service. Especially when comparing that product or service with another that has lesser (or no) externalized costs.
With this bill, energy products would be reviewed annually and rated on the basis of externalized costs. Impacts on the environment, public health, etc. would be converted to financial amounts which would then be paid through taxes to address these impacts downstream.
By applying this method, the true cost of various types of energy sources would be exposed and paid up front. Industry and public policy would then naturally gravitate to those sources that are not only cheap to "extract" but also inexpensive in terms of external impacts.
While this process would never be perfect (measuring externalities can be very difficult), just the attempt would provide a dramatic effect on the energy sources we choose to use. In my book, Resuscitating America - An Independent Voter's Guide to Restoring the American Dream, I include a BTU tax with this very purpose in mind. Moreover, I make that new tax part of a comprehensive economic plan, which would be necessary to avoid economic side-effects of this type of legislation. Great idea!
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