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NAACP: Carbon Tax Resolution Ignores Harm To Low-Income, Black, Brown Communities

BP's Whiting Refinery (FILE PHOTO: Tyler Lake/WITU)

The Indiana NAACP is speaking out against a state Senate resolutionthat urges Indiana to support a carbon tax plan. The Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan proposes taxing companies that emit greenhouse gases and returning that money to U.S. households.

Denise Abdul-Rahman is the environmental and climate justice chair for the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP. She said carbon taxes and geotechnology — like carbon capture and storage — don’t address the root causes of climate change and could prop up the dying coal industry. 

"Unless you get to the tax loopholes or fossil fuel subsidies, they will always continue to find a way to support their profit-making model which will continue to pollute in low-income and Black and Brown communities," Abdul-Rahman said.

She said pollution has affected the health of these communities, shortened their lives and lowered their property values. A small amount of cash can’t undo that harm.

“It's just degrading, I guess, is the best word that I can come with,” Abdul-Rahman said.

She said it's also possible that these dividends would be equally distributed to all households and not just those most affected by that pollution. 

Abdul-Rahman said Indigenous communities are also impacted by things like leaking natural gas pipelines.

The Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan — which is backed by some oil industry leaders — also proposes reducing environmental regulation.

Abdul-Rahman says a better solution would be to quickly transition to clean energy sources and away from fossil fuels.

CORRECTION: The original version of this story stated that the Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan recommends curbing lawsuits against companies who pollute. That was outdated as that language has since been removed from the plan. The story has been updated to reflect this.

Contact reporter Rebecca at or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.