As heat waves, floods and other calamities remind us of the urgency to address climate change, a consensus is emerging for a powerful solution that has support across the political spectrum: Put a robust price on carbon pollution and allocate the revenue to households. Our elected officials should consider it as they return to Congress this fall.
Introduced as the Energy Innovation and Carbon dividend Act (H.R.763) in the U.S. House of Representatives, this legislation would place a fee on the amount of greenhouse gases a fuel will emit when burned, starting a $15 per ton and rising $10 per ton each year. All revenue from the fee would be allocated equally to every household, ensuring that most will break even or come out ahead financially. To protect American businesses from unfair completion, the bill would apply a border carbon adjustment on imports from nations that do not have an equivalent price on carbon.
The policy is projected to reduce carbon emissions 40% within the first 12 years and 90% by 2050, exceeding the now-dismantled Clean Power plan as well as the U.S. goals established under the Paris Climate Agreement.
In addition to its effectiveness, the Energy Innovation Act is also:
- Good for people: This policy will improve health and save lives by reducing pollution that Americans breathe. Poor air quality causes and estimated 114,000 U.S. deaths each year and sickens thousands more. Additionally, the carbon dividend puts money directly into people’s pockets every month to spend as they see fit, helping low and middle income Americans.
- Good for the economy: It will create 2.1 million new jobs in the first decade, thanks to economic growth in local communities across America.
- Bipartisan: The bill has both Democratic and Republican sponsorship, giving it a greater chance of passage in Congress. Bipartisanship will also ensure that the policy endures even when political winds shift.
- Revenue neutral: The government will not keep and spend any of the fees collected, so the size of the government will not grow, a point that appeals to conservatives and increases bipartisanship.
This act enjoys support from people like George Shultz, former secretary of state; Steven Chu, former U.S. secretary of energy; Dr. James Hansen, climate scientist; Wesley Clark, U. S. army general (ret); Bradley Whitford, actor; Jessie Diggins, U. S. cross country skier and 2018 Olympic gold medalist; and many more.
Statements of support have come from many organizations and faith communities, like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Energy Innovation Act currently has 59 House members signed on as sponsor and cosponsors, including Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla.. This is the highest number of cosponsors for any carbon-pricing bill ever introduced in Congress.
The Citizens Climate Lobby chapter here in North Dakota urges Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., to cosponsor H.R.763. Sens John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, both R-N.D., should also be encouraged to support a Senate version of the bill when it is introduced.