Out of the mess

Car­bon fee and div­i­dend will help

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - MARK SE­GURA Mark Se­gura is a mem­ber of the Moun­tain Home chap­ter of Cit­i­zens Cli­mate Lobby.

As we wait in north­ern Arkansas for the com­ing sea­son of ice and snow, it may be hard to re­al­ize how our lo­cal cli­mate is chang­ing.

It’s get­ting warmer, ac­cord­ing to the Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion. That’s bad news for our sport-fish­ing in­dus­try. Warmer wa­ters could be un­in­hab­it­able for fish such as trout, which re­quire cooler wa­ter to breed. Also, warmer wa­ters will en­cour­age toxic al­gal blooms that re­duce the oxy­gen needed by fish.

But that’s not all. Ac­cord­ing to the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency and our Game and Fish Com­mis­sion, our state’s cli­mate is due for the fol­low­ing changes:

■ More fre­quent heat­waves

■ In­crease in in­sect-borne dis­eases (ticks, mosquitoes, bit­ing flies)

■ Heavy rain­fall caus­ing flood­ing, soil ero­sion and pol­lu­tion of rivers and streams

■ In­crease in droughts in some ar­eas

■ Shift­ing har­di­ness zones, caus­ing changes in crops that can be grown

Hap­pily, how­ever, some­thing is fi­nally be­ing done on the na­tional level. A strong bi­par­ti­san bill, in­tro­duced first in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and then in the U.S. Se­nate in the fi­nal months of 2018, ad­dresses the need to slow and stop cli­mate change. The se­cret is re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions in a way that is good for peo­ple and good for the econ­omy.

The bill’s pur­pose is to stim­u­late, through a mar­ket-based ap­proach, de­mand for cleaner en­ergy tech­nolo­gies by charg­ing com­mer­cial pro­duc­ers of fos­sil fu­els a fee for the car­bon diox­ide (CO2) they pro­duce in the at­mos­phere. The rise in car­bon diox­ide is one of the pri­mary rea­sons that our cli­mate is heat­ing up. The fee starts at $15 per met­ric ton of CO2 and will in­crease at set rates. The rev­enue col­lected will be re­turned to in­di­vid­ual Amer­i­can house­holds as a monthly div­i­dend to off­set in­creased prod­uct costs as­so­ci­ated with the fee. This is a way to price pol­lu­tion, some­thing that the mar­ket does not do at this time and whose ab­sence econ­o­mists call a mar­ket er­ror.

To be clear, this is not about more gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions; the mar­ket it­self will drive the change we need. The price will be borne by those who profit from car­bon pro­duc­tion, not by you and me—the div­i­dend makes sure of that.

The bill would also cre­ate an es­ti­mated 2.1 mil­lion jobs in the next 10 years. Im­por­tantly, it also in­cludes a bor­der ad­just­ment, mak­ing sure that U.S. busi­nesses are not at an in­ter­na­tional dis­ad­van­tage and are not mo­ti­vated to move over­seas.

The bi­par­ti­san En­ergy In­no­va­tion and Car­bon Div­i­dend Act will be rein­tro­duced in the 116th Con­gress. If en­acted, it is pro­jected to re­duce U.S. car­bon emis­sions by at least 40 per­cent by 2030 and 90 per­cent below 2015 lev­els by 2050. That’s stronger than our Paris com­mit­ments and the Clean Power Plan. It is a big step on the way out of the mess we’ve got­ten our­selves into. It is a way into pre­serv­ing what we have in Arkansas, in­clud­ing world-class fish­ing.

The ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing over 50 per­cent of Repub­li­can mil­len­nial vot­ers, sup­port con­gres­sional ac­tion on cli­mate change. The Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic spon­sors of this bill have re­jected par­ti­san pol­i­tics and of­fer us a so­lu­tion to the cli­mate cri­sis we, our chil­dren, and our grand­chil­dren face in Arkansas and around the world.

Repub­li­cans and Democrats alike should sup­port this bill. Please con­tact your Arkansas con­gress­man and se­na­tors. Tell them that you sup­port the En­ergy In­no­va­tion and Car­bon Div­i­dend Act, and want them to vote yes.

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