A livable world for all of our children and grandchildren is what four Nebraska chapters of Citizens’ Climate Lobby advocate for each day.
While recognizing that local communities have unique concerns, we strongly support legislation that was recently introduced in both the House (H.R. 763) and the Senate (S. 3791), the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividends Act. The Senate bill is from 2018, but there are plans to reintroduce in the coming months.
This bipartisan legislation addresses a shared problem with a policy that has appeal for both parties. The proposed bill has four components:
* A carbon fee assessed on coal, oil and natural gas companies, starting low and increasing annually. For example, the fee would translate into an increased cost of about 10 cents per gallon of gasoline annually. This fee will use the marketplace to encourage businesses and individuals to move away from fossil fuels toward cleaner, less expensive options.
It will incentivize innovation. By starting small and increasing steadily on a schedule, the fee will allow businesses to plan and make changes as desired. Importantly for Nebraska’s agricultural community, fuel used in farming and ranching will be exempt from fees.
* A carbon dividend. All fees collected will be refunded in equal shares to American adults, with half shares for children. The government does not keep any of the money collected from the fee. Individuals and families will be free to spend their dividends as they choose.
* A border adjustment on imports and exports, from and to countries without similar carbon fees. This will protect U.S. competitiveness and will lead other countries to align with America by creating their own carbon pricing laws.
* A hold on regulation of covered emissions as long as requirements are met along the way. This feature will further protect American businesses and facilitate long-range planning.
This bipartisan solution has much in its favor.
It is effective and comprehensive. The concept of a carbon fee and dividend is broadly endorsed by economists across the political spectrum. It is expected to reduce America’s emissions by 40 percent within 12 years.
It is good for people. For the majority of Nebraskans, the monthly dividend will cover higher prices with cash left over. Reducing emissions also means reducing pollution, improving health and saving lives.
It is good for the economy. Correcting a market failure of allowing pollution without a cost to the polluter, this carbon fee will stimulate innovation and investment in a clean energy economy. The projected net result will be 2.1 million new jobs over the next 10 years in clean energy, construction, healthcare and most other sectors.
It is bipartisan. Recognizing that climate change affects everyone, the majority of Americans support Congressional action. A 2017 Nebraska Rural Poll about climate change found 70 percent of Nebraskans agreed that “we will have to change our lifestyles to reduce energy consumption.” Both Republicans and Democrats, reflecting the concerns of their constituents, cosponsored these bills.
It is revenue neutral. The fees collected will not increase the size of government or fund government programs. Instead, proceeds will be passed on to all Americans. Each of us will have the freedom to decide whether, when, and how we transition to cleaner energy.
We strongly encourage Sens. Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse, and Reps. Jeff Fortenberry, Don Bacon and Adrian Smith to co-sponsor and support these bills. We need their voices at the table to protect the future of all Nebraskans.