Out of the mess
Carbon fee and dividend will help
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.