Cynthia Stancioff

The climate crisis is a uniquely challenging problem, larger and more sprawling than any problem ever faced by humanity. Many feel powerless and helpless to discern the priority for action. In response, they resolve simply to keep a low-energy profile so as to do minimal harm.

But imagine an opportunity to engage in a group effort to enact policy at the national level, to mitigate global warming through stimulating a shift in the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. Imagine your own personal effort being magnified by the voice of your community, being sent to your members of Congress, and resulting in transformational national policy.

This is what a new statewide initiative called Carbon Cash-Back 4ME can do for you: It can give you the opportunity to make a difference.

To back up a little: Most of us learned in school that a blanket of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere creates the “greenhouse effect,” which originally allowed Earth to become the only habitable planet around. But we now also know that the sudden and drastic thickening of that blanket caused by the explosion of fossil fuel burning and industrial farming since the 1800s has caused a rapid warming of the atmosphere, ocean, and landmasses, and now threatens us with ecological collapse.

Simply put, it’s time to cut our carbon loading of the atmosphere. Top economists and climate experts agree that charging a fee for the carbon pollution generated by fossil fuels is an important part of the strategy to do so. Charging for this pollution is called “carbon pricing.” Carbon pricing is being practiced in over 40 other countries — though not yet in the worst per capita CO2 offender, the USA.

But now, due to the efforts of thousands of volunteers with the national Citizens’ Climate Lobby, there is a bill before Congress called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act that proposes cash-back carbon pricing.


This involves levying a fee on all fossil fuels at their source, and returning all revenues from this fee directly to American households on an equal per capita basis through monthly dividend checks. This cash-back feature makes the policy equitable, benefiting low-income households proportionately more than wealthy households.

It is projected to reduce U.S. emissions by 40% in the first 12 years. It will benefit people’s health and save lives. Over 2 million new jobs will be created through resulting changes in our energy economy. The Carbon Dividend can be spent as consumers see fit. It doesn’t build the size of government, and it is bipartisan.

Thousands of CCL volunteers have been lobbying Congress with this idea for years. As carbon pricing bills pile up before Congress, the advantages of the cash-back approach are becoming evident.

Now with “Carbon Cash-Back 4ME,” Maine CCL volunteers are seeking “town champions” to get articles on their 2021 annual town meeting warrants endorsing this concept of national cash-back carbon pricing. The town endorsements will be relayed to our state and federal lawmakers to send them the message that national cash-back carbon pricing is supported by their constituents.

To be a town champion, you need only familiarize yourself with the policy, which is explained at the website, and then determine your town’s procedures for putting an article in the warrant.

Anyone can do this here in Maine, where most town governments are quite accessible. Sometimes select boards will simply agree to put an article in the warrant, and other times they will require first that signatures be collected on a petition. You might find it easier to work with another person or two from your town.

This is a unique opportunity to move from personally doing no harm to personally causing great good for our climate future. Please consider taking advantage of it.

Cynthia Stancioff of Chesterville has a masters of srts degree in public administration, and is a Citizens Climate Lobby volunteer, nature advocate, and wild mushroom enthusiast. She can be reached at, or contact the state CCL coordinator, Peter Garrett, at

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