Environment Feed

Happy Earth Day 2017! Maybe you're spending this Saturday simply out enjoying the beauty of Mother Earth. Or perhaps you're participating in the March for Science (the main event in D.C. or satellite marches across the country) to support scientific efforts, including the study of climatology and climate change. Regardless of how you acknowledge Earth Day, thank you for thinking of our planet. In recognition of your commitment to protect and preserve the only place we humans and other creatures have (so far) to live, here are 7 tax saving options that reward energy and environmentally friendly efforts. Let's start... Read more →


Bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas, are among the wildflowers that emerged early this year thanks to warmer than normal temperatures. (Photo of a Hill Country patch on March 18, 2017, by Kay Bell) Hello, Spring! You used to be my favorite season, but for the last few years — OK, the last dozen that we've been back in Texas — you've arrived in late February or early March and only lasted about three days. By the time you're official, which was when you clocked in at 6:29 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (5:29 a.m. CDT; I was asleep) today, it... Read more →


With Republicans soon to be in control of Congress and the White House, the tax focus has shifted to a major rewrite of the Internal Revenue Code. But this legislative approach means that more than 30 temporary tax provisions will disappear from the tax code on Jan. 1, 2017. Whether they are resurrected in any new tax overhaul depends on how persuasive the various laws' lobbyists are, how committed Senators and Representatives are to streamlining the tax code and how much tax revenue is gained or lost by their continued absence or revival. Extenders usually long lives: These tax laws,... Read more →


China has enacted a series of taxes on various types of industrial pollution. But to the dismay of even some of its own government researchers, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are not included in the tax plan. Some specific emissions could mean tax bills for Chinese companies under a new pollution tax law just enacted by that country. (Photo by Graeme Maclean via Flickr CC) Still, for the first time ever, public institutions and companies that discharge listed pollutants directly into the environment will face specific environmental protection taxes. Some air, water pollutants targeted: Under the law passed Dec.... Read more →


Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving, whether you're at home with family and friends or are 249 miles above Earth on the International Space Station. Astronaut Shane Kimbrough shares what he and his colleagues will be eating aboard the International Space Station this Thanksgiving Day. Click image to watch the full NASA video on YouTube. Astronauts aboard the ISS will enjoy each other's company over a specially packaged turkey dinner with all the trimmings and NFL football. "It's going to be little bit different for us up here in space, but I'm going to try to make it as much like home as... Read more →


Voters in California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine approved recreational marijuana use, and taxing those personal pot amounts, on Nov. 8. The votes are in, for the most part, not only for the U.S. president, but also for myriad ballot initiatives. Only Arizona voters on Tuesday rejected personal marijuana legalization. The lone consolation for many disappointed Grand Canyon State supporters is that travel is easy to the neighboring, and pot-approving, states of Nevada, California and Colorado. While the weed votes -- medical marijuana also was on ballots, and approved, in North Dakota, Arkansas, Florida and Montana -- got most mass media... Read more →


Americans vote tomorrow for our 45th president. Finally! Do you know where your polling place tomorrow is? If not, HeadCount can help. While that's the biggest decision, millions of folks across the country also will have a voice Nov. 8 on a variety of consequential issues via ballot initiatives. Ballotpedia reports that this Election Day, there are 162 statewide ballot measures in 35 states. Eight measures were decided in pre-November elections, leaving 154 measures to be decided tomorrow. Politicking for pot, other smoking taxes: Marijuana always gets a lot of attention at election time. (I still blame "Reefer Madness" for... Read more →


Would a tax break be enough to change your shopping habits? One Scandinavian country is hoping to test that theory, and possibly permanently reshape consumers' attitudes, when it comes to many common household goods. Brian Beatty of Zen Cog Bicycle Company in Jacksonville, Florida, repairs a bike. (Photo by Jax REcycle via Flickr) It's not a new idea. Taxes have been used for, well, forever to try to encourage or discourage certain behaviors. That's why we have sin taxes on things most of us agree are not good, like smoking. And that's why we get tax benefits for actions perceived... Read more →


I'm raising my third cup to celebrate National Coffee Day. I must admit, though, that I tend to follow my grandmother's tastes when it comes to this caffeinated beverage. Like her, I prefer a little coffee in my milk. A bit blurry because I hadn't had enough cups o' Joe before I took this! And that apparent facial profile in the cup is totally accidental! But even drinking what hardcore coffee aficionados consider a diluted drink, it's enough to keep me going as I read, research, write and blog about taxes. And that's fitting, since coffee does indeed have some... Read more →


J. Sterling Morton started Arbor Day back in 1872 with a simple idea: Set aside a special day for tree planting. Our backyard tree line. That's an oak at left, a crepe myrtle in the middle and a fig to the right, with some junipers and more oaks at back. Even on cloudy, gray days like this Arbor Day 2016, I love looking out at them. Morton saw the value of trees in the wide open high plains of Nebraska, where he had moved in 1854. The tallest of our plants serve as windbreaks to keep soil in place and... Read more →


In the largest ever gathering of world leaders, the global representatives of 196 nations on Dec. 12 signed a historic climate change pact. The consensus of great global powers and some of the planet's poorest nations alike was that the landmark agreement is necessary to make changes in human behavior that will slow and limit the earth's increasing temperature. A new study, however, suggests that people worldwide need to make a change in their eating habits. And one way to accomplish such a dietary change might be a meat tax. Would a tax on your steak and other meat cause... Read more →


I was born and spent the first 18 years of my life in the desert terrain of West Texas. That's probably why our first family vacation to the Texas coast to see the ocean, as we called the Gulf of Mexico, is still such a vivid memory all these many years later. Ocean sunset along Pacific Grove, California, by Paul Jimerson via NAAA|Flickr The hubby and I were lucky enough to live for while in South Florida. Our home was a 15 minute (as long as we didn't hit any open Intracoastal Waterway bridges) drive to the beach. My workplace... Read more →


Henry Paulson was running the U.S. Treasury when the country encountered its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Now he's warning of a climate crisis that could be even worse. Paulson served as Treasury Secretary during the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency, but is most widely known as the man in charge during what came to be known as the bailout of the U.S. financial system. During that 2008 crisis, Paulson directed billions of dollars to banks and other financial institutions to cover their losses from distressed assets, primarily especially subprime mortgage backed securities. A worse,... Read more →


The kids are finally back in class. Thanks to a variety of summer sales tax holidays across the country, their parents saved some cash on school clothing and supplies. Now a handful of states is offering energy-related sales tax holidays. In all cases, the eligible tax-free items are Energy Star or WaterSense, certified. These programs, run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and, in the case of Energy Star, also the Energy Department Energy, encourage the use of energy- and water-efficient products and practices. Florida kicked off the energy-related sales tax holidays on Friday, Sept. 19. Shoppers can save on... Read more →


Since my mom moved to the Austin area three years ago, I've been driving the 100 or so round-trip miles every other week to visit her. I am very glad I filled up my Chevy before the last visit and that it gets good mileage. Earlier in April, regular gasoline was just a nickel more than $3 per gallon. Now at some Central Texas stations, the pump price is pushing $3.60 a gallon. Fuel costs are on my mind today not only because it's almost time to hit the road to mom's again, but also because today is Earth Day.... Read more →


If recent winter storms left you stuck on an icy road or without power, you can quit cursing Mother Nature, highway departments and power companies. Your anger might be better directed at cows. Most scientists say a major contributor to climate change, which covers not only global warming events like Australia's recent hot spell, but all types of extreme weather worldwide, is carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. But a group of international researchers say we also need to pay more attention to other greenhouse gases associated with livestock. In the opinion commentary "Ruminants, Climate Change and Climate Policy" published in the... Read more →


Whenever you're tempted to curse traffic as you head to and from work next year, aim some of your epithets at Congress. (Like you needed another reason!) That legislative body has encouraged workplace benefits that reward drivers who commute rather than those who take public transportation to and from their jobs. Catching some ZZZZZs on the way into work. Photo by Alexander Baxevanis/futureshape via Flicker Creative Commons. And the disparity is about be more starkly displayed in the New Year unless Capitol Hill takes action. Commuter benefit parity ends: On Jan. 1, 2014, commuters who use rail, bus or van... Read more →


Fewer of us will be going over the river or through the woods to grandma's house this Thanksgiving travel season, according to AAA. That's bad news not only for sad grandparents who won't see their families, but also for state treasuries. The drop in travel, especially of the vehicular variety, is going to cost states tax money. Overall, AAA projects that 43.4 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which the travel group defines as starting today (Wednesday, Nov. 27) and wrapping up on Sunday, Dec. 1. That's a slight decrease from... Read more →


One of my favorite T-shirts was the one the hubby brought back from Spain when he went there in 1997 to cover the Ryder Cup golf tournament. On the shirt's front was Spain's tourism logo, a colorful, stylized sun. I wore out that shirt and now it looks like the sun -- or at least those who use it for energy -- has worn out its welcome in España. Technically, Spaniards can still use the solar panels they installed to power their homes with the same resource that attracts millions of tourists. They just have to pay more for it.... Read more →


Summer officially arrived on Friday. But the longest day of the year is far from the hottest. If 2013 is anything like last year, we'll all be cursing the heat during July So now is the time to think about tuning up your air conditioning system. These pups probably would be cooler inside under the A/C instead of atop the condenser. As a general rule, your cooling system works better when you keep the outside air conditioning unit clear of everything, including pets! If you need a new residential cooling system, look into the possibility that you can help cover... Read more →