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Karla Deuter

Karla Deuter

What’s the point of a carbon tax rebate? That was the headline to a column by Cal Thomas on The Journal's Jan. 9 Opinion page. I feel the need to respond to that very question.

First of all, the point of putting a price on carbon-producing fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is to reduce the amount of harmful carbon pollution being emitted into the atmosphere. The majority of Americans understand the cause of climate change and the severe consequences of inaction.

Secondly, the carbon tax that Mr. Thomas refers to in Ireland and France is very different from the carbon fee and dividend bills introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate at the end of 2018. These bills, H.R. 7173 and S.3791, both sponsored by Republicans and Democrats, will assess a fee on fossil fuels that starts low and grows over time. The government will not keep any of the fees collected, so the size of the government will not grow. The money from the fee will be allocated equally and directly to all Americans to spend any way they choose.

A steadily rising carbon fee will increase fossil fuel energy costs and the dividend is the key to offsetting these cost increases while transitioning to clean energy. Numerous economic studies, including a 2017 U.S. Treasury report and a study done by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) show that between 60 to 70 percent of Americans would be better off financially under a carbon dividends program. Typically, lower income households use less energy so they’ll be more apt to come out ahead. It all depends on what kind of energy you use, and how much. The agricultural community should note that fuels used on farms, chiefly diesel fuel for tractors and other equipment, is proposed to be exempt from the carbon fee. Both congressional bills will drive down America’s carbon pollution and help bring climate change under control because energy companies, industries and consumers will move toward cleaner, cheaper options. Close to home, Black Hills Corp. is pursing regulatory approval for a wind farm west of Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Also, economic studies indicate this policy will create 2.1 million additional jobs over the next 10 years, thanks to the growth in the clean energy economy. And it’s not just renewable energy jobs. The REMI economic study found that with a carbon fee and dividend policy, job losses in mining and drilling would be outweighed by job gains in almost every other category, including manufacturing, education, construction, finance, retail trades, and even health care.

The majority of Americans support Congress taking action on climate change. Solving this problem is too urgent to get caught up in partisan politics. Let’s not use fear, partisanship and misinformation to stall the movement to a healthier, more stable and prosperous nation for future generations. Let’s be thankful that some in Congress joined in a bipartisan manner and introduced the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. Let’s also use our voices and tell our members of Congress that we support these bills. Let’s make a difference.

Karla Deuter of Rapid City, South Dakota, is co-leader of the Black Hills Chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby (www.citizensclimatelobby.org).

Editor's note: Tuesday Topic is a weekly Opinion page feature. Each Tuesday in this space, one local, regional or state writer will discuss an issue in the news. If you have an idea for a Tuesday Topic, please contact Editorial Page Editor Michael Gors at 712-293-4223 or mike.gors@lee.net.

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