Steam billows from the cooling towers of a coal-fired power station in Yallourn, Australia. (Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg News)

The Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan has considerable merit for many of the reasons put forth in Caroline Heilbrun’s July 8 Local Opinions essay, “How to make Virginia cleaner and less congested.” A bipartisan agreement to implement such a plan can best be reached by a gradual phase-in of both the carbon tax and the payout of a so-called dividend to the American public.

A phase-in of the tax starting low (e.g., $10 per ton of carbon) and steadily increasing over a 10-year period to perhaps $40 per ton would be best for economic purposes. As for the dividend portion, a phased reduction of payroll taxes over the same period as well as annual contributions to the Social Security retirement fund would fulfill the requirement that all Americans be treated equally.

The most important aspect of the dividend in the Baker-Shultz proposal is that all carbon taxes raised would be returned to the American public and no revenue would be diverted to other government spending programs.

Lawrence G. Karch, Gainesville