So what is this H.R. Bill 763 (The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act) mentioned in last week's climate column? I have told you that this bill will save lives, reduce air pollution and put money in the pocketbooks of Americans.
I've heard that you want to hear details. Fantastic! Here they are:
• H.R. 763 puts a steadily rising fee ($15 per ton, increasing $10 per ton every year) on carbon dioxide or its equivalent greenhouse gases at the source. That means that companies that either draw greenhouse gases out of the ground or bring it into the country directly will pay the fee. (The emission amounts are already known and calibrated so new data collection will not be necessary.)
• Fees collected to the U.S. Treasury will be distributed on a monthly basis, equally to all Americans. Most Americans, according to economic studies, will receive more in monthly dividends than they personally will pay for in higher prices. (That is why I say this puts money in people's pockets).
• By bringing greenhouse gas emissions down more sharply as time goes on, climate change is brought under control. Cleaner air, along with the lives saved through fewer heavy weather events, saves lives and dollars. The economy does not falter, but grows alongside the steady drip of encouragement that makes dirty energy increasingly expensive and clean energy increasingly cheap.
• There is an exception worth noting: The emissions of nitrous oxide created with synthetic fertilizer will not be priced. This is a significant concession to large-scale American farmers. Whether you see this exemption as morally astute, politically adroit or blatantly unfair, is your decision.
• It does greatly increase the chances of support from house members from the Midwest and, ultimately, the bill's successful passage.
• And finally, a border adjustment on imports and exports ensures a "level playing field" in our trade relations with countries still working in dirty energy. (Incidentally, the number of those countries has dropped significantly. That level playing field will be truly level - not slanted in our direction.)
This bill, originating from a Republican office, but with numerous Democratic co-sponsors, is the embodiment of what is good about our government, our country and our values.
It is bipartisan because it's politically safe and no one can argue with it; rather, it takes a difficult issue and honors values from both left and right.
It is relatively short, simple and understandable when compared with any other energy bill or regulatory statute that has attempted to address the scope of this problem in the past decade. If we are ready, this is the bill that is going to resolve what has felt unresolvable in the halls of Congress for so long.
Its supporters and predecessors include George Shultz, Lawrence Summers, Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan, Janet Yellen, Paul Volcker, 12 additional chairpersons of the president's Council of Economic Advisers and 27 Nobel laureates in economics (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 16, 2019).
Look up this bill. Call Rep. Pete Stauber (218-481-6396) and voice your support for it. Join the Minnesota Citizens' Climate Lobby State Conference in St. Cloud on April 13 to invest more time, energy and faith into a bright future.
Katya Gordon is a Two Harbors resident and volunteer for the Citizens' Climate Lobby, which meets monthly in the Two Harbors/Duluth area.