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Climate: Citizens, loggers, even mushers could see bill's impact

Katya Gordon

In the hopes that someday this article will qualify for the News-Chronicle's "Lake County Past" column, one of my favorite reads, I'm going to bring readers up to speed with recent political developments that may have long-term historic impacts.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act was reintroduced in Congress this week. The Bill, H.R. 763, has seven co-sponsors, including one Republican. The bill legislates a steadily rising price on carbon equivalents and returns all revenues to U.S. citizens in equal, monthly dividend checks.

This bill reduces U.S. air pollution-related deaths, create jobs in both old and new sectors, and puts money in people's pockets, thus furthering economic stimulation. Most important, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent — maybe more — in the first 12 years.

If this bill had passed in 2006, we'd be there now. With many new members of Congress pledging to work hard and respectfully with those across the aisle, passing the bill this year is a fantastic possibility.

More than ever before, Americans are paying attention to climate change. According to a new public poll from Yale and George Mason University, more than seven out of 10 Americans described global warming as "personally important" to them. This is the biggest jump ever since these polls began 10 years ago.

Interestingly, seven out of 10 Americans also say that they would not be willing to spend $10 per month to solve this problem. So, we have a large number of Americans who are seeing climate change around them, but are either unaware of its costs, or are reluctant to throw money at the problem.

If H.R. 763 passes, we would not have to think about throwing money at the problem. All we would have to do is what we've always done — ook at prices when we buy goods and services. The "invisible hand" of the free market does the rest.

Last week, an article in the News-Chronicle was closely connected to climate change. Unable to access the spruce in unfrozen wetland areas early this winter, loggers are harvesting record amounts of aspen instead. This has created a glut in the market that will either force loggers to stockpile their wood or go idle for the remainder of the winter.

Loggers and truckers are feeling the effects of warmer and less-predictable winters.

The Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon mushers headed out this week with plenty of snow and cold. This year, they timed it just right and should have glorious conditions. Had organizers scheduled this event for early January, mushers and dogs would have been slapped with rain and ice.

If you haven't yet investigated this bill, energyinnovationact.org is a good place to start. Carbon pricing is coming and we should all be part of the conversation.

If you believe climate needs to be looked straight in the eye, call our new Congressman, Pete Stauber, today and help him make climate a priority. He can be reached at 218-461-8683 in Minnesota or 202-225-6211 in D.C.

Katya Gordon is a volunteer for the Citizens' Climate Lobby and a Two Harbors resident.