Around the time I took the California bar to become an attorney, I\u2019d hear of various schemes hatched by wannabe lawyers to get around the system to pass the three-day exam. That included the story of a very pregnant lawyer who took the exam for her husband, who flunked several times. The woman disguised herself by wearing a baggy man\u2019s suit and coloring in a Fred Flintstone-like five o\u2019clock shadow. Interestingly enough, it wasn\u2019t her darkened face that alerted the bar review examiners, but the suspiciously high score s\/he scored. Each time I got wind of bar exam scams, I thought if these people put some of that scam effort instead into studying they\u2019d pass the bar. I feel the same way when I compare developing a greenhouse gas emissions trading market in California with creating a carbon tax. Putting a state-wide carbon fee in place to get emission reductions from electricity supplies and transportation and heating fuels is far simpler administratively than setting up a carbon commodities market. Instead of devising a convoluted trading system that could be scammed or continually postponed by complexities, like the much-delayed grid operator market redesign, just tax carbon like we do cigarettes and alcohol. To get an idea of how a carbon tax works in practice, I called the head of the Boulder, Colorado, Office of Environmental Affairs. In November 2006, Boulder voters approved a carbon fee on electricity by 62 percent. The fee, which is based on kilowatt hours used, was launched a year ago with mandates that the revenue generated be applied to efficiency, weatherization and renewable supply programs to cut greenhouse gases. \u201cAdministratively, it has been very, very seamless,\u201d Jonathan Koehn, Boulder environmental affairs manager, told me. He attributes it to his office\u2019s and the city\u2019s sole investor-owned utility, Xcel, working cooperatively to develop and implement the proposal. Xcel collects the fee and sends the revenue to the environmental affairs office. I asked Koehn if the city considered a carbon trading program. He said it had, but rejected that option because of the complexity of setting one up. \u201cIt\u2019s brain damage,\u201d he said. To get a trading market off the ground, controversial matters must be decided, including how to allocate emissions credits, which involve equity issues, how to measure and verify reductions to avoid paper trades, as well as setting enforcement measures for crooks. Koehn said that the city\u2019s carbon fee may be used as a model for a state-wide carbon tax. The Colorado governor\u2019s office is exploring the idea, and it may be proposed legislatively next session. Given tax sensitivities around this time of year--with the dreaded April 15 deadline quickly approaching--undoubtedly talk of another possible tax in and outside California is about as popular as a three-day bar exam. However, if the tax were offset by reductions in other taxes, such as sales, corporate or income taxes, it becomes more palatable. In fact, many cities, including San Francisco, are working on creating a carbon fee that is offset by corresponding reductions in other taxes to make it revenue neutral. But making a carbon tax a reality in this state requires more than that. It requires a big time makeover, with the feared scam artist with the dark 5 o\u2019clock shadow replaced by a charismatic, popular figure touting the tax\u2019s benefits. In short, we need a Carbonator who asks you to think not about what the state can do for you but what you can do for the state, country, and world at large. I doubt carbon traders will be thinking about the latter question as they\u2019re looking to a carbon market as the next potential pot of gold--with little concern about reducing global warming and\/or preserving the integrity of the electricity supply. The Carbonator needs to also note not only the tax\u2019s environmental and economic benefits, such as green jobs, but other advantages. One, for instance, is that it does not select which technologies or fuels are in and which are out. Consider, for example, how much traction the $2.6 billion \u201cMillion Solar Roofs\u201d measure got when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger used his clout to promote it. It made headlines and passed the Legislature. So did the state\u2019s climate change law, AB 32, when the state chief used his bully pulpit to help launch state-wide carbon reduction mandates. At the same time, other concerns about a tax, including ensuring that the revenue is used to curb carbon need to be addressed. We should follow the example of the Boulder initiative that requires that money generated from the carbon tax be dedicated to measures aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Also, a group of citizens formed the Boulder Carbon Tax Tracker to make sure the revenue is spent by the environmental affairs office as mandated. To ensure that the tax revenue from a carbon tax in California is spent as promised, a commission subject to public records and open meeting laws could be created to spend the money and be held accountable. The defunct California Power Authority could be revived for this purpose and renamed the California Carbon Authority. To counter the tax hit on struggling families, they should get a tax credit to offset taxes they paid for gasoline, for example, used in a long commutes to work in cities in which they can\u2019t afford to live. Or, revenue could be dedicated to offsetting their utility bills. A carbon tax, like the bar exam, is all work and no fun. And, we should focus on getting the job of slashing greenhouse gas emission done to ensure our future.