Is it possible that Americans, conservative and liberal, are finding common ground in the effort to curb global warming? Are people of this nation finally ready to take aggressive measures to turn down the heat on this over-cooked planet?

It appears so, based on an exciting bipartisan event that occurred recently in the U.S. House of Representatives. There, a group of three Republican and three Democratic representatives have sponsored the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, HR 7173, which promotes a market-based and revenue-neutral carbon pricing system that would redirect the economy to green energy sources.

For those who insist on staring the climate crisis straight in the face such that it affects their daily outlook on the world, the introduction of this bill could keep them out of therapy for another day.

For those who take climate change less to heart but still hope it will disappear or turn out not to be that serious, it might reassure them that the hand-wringing will be toned down a bit.

The act proposes that a per-ton fee would be levied on fossil fuels at the point of entry into the economy. It would start low and increase annually. Though fuel companies would likely pass any additional costs on to consumers, the revenue from the fee would be directly returned in monthly dividend checks to American households equally, based purely on household size. Consumers could use the cash on anything they choose.

The bill stipulates that no further regulations on covered carbon dioxide emissions can be imposed by the government unless the emissions goals are not met in 10 years. Other greenhouse gas regulations are not outlawed however.

So it seems highly likely that with such a market mechanism in place, energy companies, leading industries, and American consumers will move more rapidly toward green alternatives; and this country will begin to benefit as others have from the burgeoning green energy economy. New small businesses will form. Models indicate that the dividend will render most Maine families ahead financially.

We will again be great, instead of late. As the recent definitive reports — including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with its 12-year do-or-die prognosis, and the National Climate Assessment by our own federal government — have made clear, the U.S. will just barely squeak under the wire if bold action is taken, basically, immediately.

Putting a price on carbon — which means acknowledging the true cost of continuing to add carbon to the atmosphere — is a major step in the right direction, and was the first recommendation of the IPCC report.

The proposal has been crafted, supported and negotiated by conservative opinion leaders and respected environmental advocates working together for common cause. It is the first really good climate news the country has had. And it shows that climate can be a “bridge” issue instead of the “wedge” issue it had become.

People can celebrate by spreading the word and our congressional representatives should support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividends Act.

And sleep better tonight.

Cynthia Stancioff is a member of the Citizens Climate Lobby, Mid-Maine chapter. She lives in Chesterville.

Cynthia Stancioff


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