A stable environment and a healthy world are interests we all share. Growing dangers within our climate system have emerged. We don’t need to be convinced of climate change by computer modeling; thermometers, rain gauges, crop losses and storm damage are telling the story. We know how these dangers developed and we know what must be done: human caused carbon dioxide emissions must be rolled back.
Carbon dioxide (CO2), when in balance with other gases, is a friend to our planet. But when out-of-balance through the burning of fossil fuels, it traps heat and changes our climate for the worse. The Earth now has more CO2 in its atmosphere than any time within the past million years. Whether CO2 retains heat is not a debatable issue, nor is whether our climate is heating up to our detriment. It is. More than 97% of climate scientists agree.
But there is good news. We now have a solution to seriously cut back on CO2 emissions and protect our economy at the same time. How? By placing a gradually rising price on fossil fuels coupled with a real-time return of those same funds to American households as monthly dividends.
Although no transitional policy is perfect, this approach is pretty close. A bipartisan bill advancing this policy is HR 763, The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. Introduced by two Florida Congressmen: Democrat Ted Deutch and Republican Francis Rooney, the bill sends a clear market signal that fossil fuel costs are rising, so the entire economy will shift to cleaner, cheaper energy. And as the market prices for carbon intensive energy grow through the fees, so too do the monthly dividends paid to Americans, protecting vulnerable Americans from rising energy costs as our dividends stimulate the economy. Smartly, a border adjustment within the bill assures a level playing field for imports from and exports to countries without a similar fee. Countries that want to do business with us would likely follow suit with their own carbon price.
HR763 was not crafted by partisan interests or billionaires. It was largely composed by bipartisan volunteers at Citizens’ Climate Lobby who have asked their representatives to work across the aisle to advance common interests. Its conceptual approach arose from a NASA scientist who seriously reflected on solutions. Of course, both fossil fuel advocates and inflexible environmental advocates could likely find complaints with the bill. But as Earth Day approaches, we are reminded of the need to do our best together to protect our common home — the Earth itself.
We are at a crossroads. The future can be marked by increased disruption — super fires, widespread flooding, property losses, bigger hurricanes and food insecurity—or it can be characterized by a commitment to climate safety. Future generations whose lives and health will depend on our decisions have done nothing to cause these problems. But they will surely be saddled with them. This is a promise of physics, not a campaign argument to provoke special interests. Of course it is wise to use energy efficient devices and to reduce our personal carbon footprints. But we also need a broad-based, safe, national policy to reduce the emissions that fuel climate change. HR 763 is a start. It is designed to unleash innovation through a free market economy. It will yield 2.1 million new jobs within its first 10 years. During its first 12 years, it will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent.
HR 763 now has 30 cosponsors, but more are needed: House champions now and Senate supporters in the near future. As Earth Day arrives, it’s time to come together and support a prosperous and safe climate policy for the future. Congressman O’Halleran appreciates hearing from constituents on issues we care about.
On this Earth Day, let’s voice our support for HR 763 and ask the Congressman to help us pass this bill: https://ohalleran.house.gov/contact/email. Together we can do this.