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Opinion: Carbon Dividend Act makes sense for us
CLIMATE2
A wind turbine is silhouetted against the setting sun near King City, Mo. - photo by Associated Press

I appreciated the recent letter from Tanya Bennett who spoke of positive efforts in Hall County to build a community based on “the well-being of fellow residents, desire to preserve our home environment and optimism regarding the potential of this region.”

Ms. Bennett then addresses the subject of environmental justice, stating that “a failure to look ahead will result in a negative impact to our region.” She asks the question “If change is coming, shouldn’t we plan for and benefit from it rather than reacting as it is thrown at us?”  

I believe that rapid environmental change is happening now and that if we fail to plan for it, we may find ourselves scrambling for inadequate, short-sighted, stop gap solutions.  

Have we not seen how chaotic that approach is, in the wake of the U.S. response to COVID-19? It’s going to take all of us working together, united in purpose, to address the increasing climate-related disasters such as flooding, catastrophic hurricanes, increasing temperatures, wildfires, environmental refugees, rising sea levels and national security issues. And when I say “all of us” I mean that in the global sense. 

One piece of our preparation for the changes that are coming must be legislation that puts a price on carbon, the use of which contributes to environmental destruction. 

The Energy and Innovation and Carbon Divided Act (House Resolution 763) was reintroduced to the House of Representatives in 2019 and has support from a bipartisan group of law makers. Those who wish to read more about it, can go to www.citizensclimateeducation.org.  I would urge readers of The Times to contact their congressional representatives in support of this House Resolution, by phone, email or letter. 

A 2013 study by Regional Economic Models Inc. concluded that, “during the first 20 years alone, a carbon fee and dividend policy would lead to:

  • “A 50% reduction of carbon emissions below 1990 levels”
  • The addition of 2.8 million jobs above baseline, driven by the steady economic stimulus of the energy dividend
  • “The avoidance of 230,000 premature deaths due to reduction in air pollutants that often accompany carbon emissions” 

HR 763 would place a steadily rising price on carbon and other greenhouse gases.  Fees collected from carbon producers would be given back to all Americans in equal shares (minus administrative costs) in the form of a monthly dividend check. 

The taxpayers (not the government) would then be free to spend that money however they wish, with low-income families coming out ahead 90% of the time simply because they consume far less energy than the wealthy. 

Passage of this act would encourage development of renewable energy solutions (wind turbines, more affordable electric vehicles, solar energy collection) and thus provide numerous jobs for displaced workers from oil, coal and other industries. The greatest job creation would be in occupations typically filled by low- to middle-income workers. 

A gradual shift to renewable energy sources through a carbon fee and dividend method makes sense. 


Robin Neiheisel

Oakwood

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