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Opinion: Carbon pricing bill can reduce greenhouse gas emissions
A wind turbine is silhouetted against the setting sun near King City, Mo. - photo by Associated Press

The issue of how to deal with climate changes due to human emissions has brought about numerous attempts to offer strategies. It’s difficult to imagine how the entire planet can work together to tackle an enormously difficult problem. Looking at public opinion here in the U.S., one can see a spectrum of ideas to combat global warming ranging from doing nothing (hoping that we can just adapt) to imposing harsh regulations to be imposed immediately by the federal regulatory agencies (such as the Green New Deal).

Considering the various and profound changes that are mostly undesirable, and which are occurring all over the planet, doing nothing promises to invite consequences that will be increasingly difficult to manage, based on scientific consensus. On the other hand, radical and dramatic changes in our present habits could impose harsh burdens on our population, especially on those with very limited means.

There have been some initiatives within Congress that attempt to deal with this very large problem in incremental steps and that would promote job growth and impose a minimal burden on those who can least afford the impacts of higher energy prices. HR 2307 (Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act), introduced in the 117th Congress this past April, is such an initiative and was preceded by a similar bipartisan measure in the previous Congress.

Carbon pricing is an approach to which some conservatives are open — including Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney.

The bill stipulates an initial $15 carbon fee, imposed on producers or importers of fossil fuels, for every tonne of greenhouse gas content. The fee would augment subsequently by $10 per year. The continuance of the rate structure would be contingent upon meeting targeted reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, continuing until the total emission nationally is 10% of the 2010 GHG emissions. This 10% point, which would terminate the fee, is expected to be the year 2050, per the bill. Targeted reductions in GHG emissions are 5% per year until 2030 and then 3% per year thereafter.

The receipts from the fees would be deposited in a trust fund and then disbursed as dividends to U.S. citizens and lawful residents. Agriculture and the armed forces would be exempted from the fees and rebates issued to those facilities that sequester GHG emissions. Administration fees are limited to 2% of carbon fee receipts.

Experts have reviewed this carbon pricing bill and determined that many jobs could be created as alternatives to fossil fuels are developed. What could be a better way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than the implementation of carbon pricing such as that provided for by the proposed HR 2307?

Nicholas Schardl