The Canadian province of Quebec, as far as we know, has become the first government of size in North America to impose a tax on emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and everyone there is still wondering what it might mean. It’s a small tax right now–0.8 cents (Canadian, though the Canadian and U.S. dollars are currently worth about the same) on a liter of gasoline–and it’s supposed to be aimed strictly at energy-producing companies. But there have been complaints from other companies, warning of a trickle-down effect to them, and loss of competitiveness with firms elsewhere. Rep. John Dingell, who chairs the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, has proposed a carbon tax for the U.S. “A fee on carbon emissions requires a tithe from all citizens and industries,"he says in a statement, "but no one entity will be unfairly leveled with a devastating burden. More importantly, it provides an incentive for change in our economy and our way of life. I welcome public input on how this policy proposal can best balance our environmental and economic concerns and I look forward to receiving feedback.” Dingell’s critics–witness this response from Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club–accuse him of cynicism: "First, Dingell has seemingly designed his strategy to fail, and admits as much — which is not something a legislative craftsman as skilled as he would normally do. And, two, he has done so at a time when Congress is debating the most popular mechanism for reducing oil consumption — tougher fuel economy standards — which Dingell and GM loathe." Such a tax does have defenders, who say it’s necessary, and can be done in a fair way that is revenue-neutral. They argue that there’s a wonderful way to avoid paying: do the right thing and use less energy. What say you?