To the editor:
What should we do for Earth Day this year? President Biden is observing it by hosting leaders from 40 countries for a virtual World Leaders Summit on Climate. He’s already proposed investing some $500 billion of his $2 trillion infrastructure plan on measures aimed at reducing harmful carbon emissions, accelerating our transition to renewable energy, and protecting localities from climate-related disasters. OK....
Then last week in the Register-Star, I read an editorial from the Washington Post arguing that the proposed expenditures and mandates may be too narrowly focused. It noted that mandating “clean” electricity covers “just one part of the emissions picture,” and targeted investments such as electric vehicle charging infrastructure or home retrofits “may not perform as expected.”
What’s missing, the WaPo says, is an “economywide spur to private companies and consumers to make greener choices...through a carbon tax. Put a high enough price on polluting, and massive cuts in emissions would be guaranteed,” regardless of how government-funded efforts perform.
As it happens, that solution actually exists in a bill recently introduced in the House of Representatives: the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 2307). Launched by Rep. Ted Deutch (FL), with 41 cosponsors to date, it would put a rising price on carbon pollution that gets America to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Further, it would protect consumers from rising costs by returning the revenue to US households through monthly dividend checks.
The commonsense approach of carbon pricing coupled with protection for low-to-middle-income households has been gaining traction recently across the country. Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a volunteer organization with chapters throughout the Hudson Valley, has long advocated this type of legislation. Locally, a number of elected officials, a wide range of independent businesses, and 10 town and village boards in Columbia, Dutchess and Ulster counties have explicitly endorsed the policy as an essential element to reduce the risks of climate change.
What should you do for Earth Day? First, call Congressman Antonio Delgado (202-225-5614), thank him for consistently supporting a fee and dividend climate solution, and urge him to co-sponsor the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. Then call Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand (202-225-3121) and ask them to support similar legislation in the Senate. Your action will be a gift to the planet.
Karen Frishkoff, Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteer