A few months into the new administration, the federal government is off to a roaring start on climate change. President Biden signed executive orders related to climate change in his early days in office, and the White House just introduced a proposal that elevates climate solutions alongside infrastructure and job goals.
The latest exciting development in climate policy is the introduction of legislation called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 2307). The bill hit the House of Representatives on April 1, led by Florida Democrat Rep. Ted Deutch (FL-22) and 28 original cosponsors, including Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24), a Democrat who represents part of Ventura County.
This policy will quickly slash climate-changing emissions and save American lives by reducing pollution. It will also spur business innovation and lead to affordable clean energy, all while putting money in people’s pockets. Let’s explore how.
First, the policy puts a steadily rising price on carbon pollution. This price signal will steer our economy away from fossil fuels, leading to a 30% reduction in carbon emissions in just five years. Under this policy, America will be on the path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — a critical target according to the scientific community. That deadline comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s game-changing 2018 report, where the authors also specified that carbon pricing, such as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, is “a necessary condition of ambitious climate policies.”
As fossil fuel use drops and emissions decline, public health will also benefit. We could save 4.5 million American lives over the next 50 years by replacing polluted air with clean air. That’s why the Lancet Commission endorses carbon pricing as “the single most powerful strategic instrument to inoculate human health against the risks of climate change.”
What’s more, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act will provide economic benefits to Americans. Every household will receive a monthly carbon dividend or “carbon cash-back” payment, putting the revenue into people’s pockets to spend without restrictions. With this policy, 85% of Americans will come out ahead or break even. For example, the average family in Oxnard will gain about $15 per month between carbon dividends of $40 and carbon fee costs of $25.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is a longtime supporter of this approach. She affirmed in her January confirmation process that she’s “fully supportive of effective carbon pricing,” adding, “I know that the President is as well.” More than 3,000 economists across America have endorsed carbon fee-and-dividend policies, including Dr. Jamshid Damooei, chair of the Cal Lutheran University Economics Department, and the entire Economics faculty of Cal State University Channel Islands.
This policy is also better for business. With this bill, the government sets a predictable direction for businesses to move: away from carbon emissions. It’s up to businesses how to move in that direction. Economists expect a policy like the Energy Innovation Act will drive technological innovation, and businesses will respond with abundant, affordable, reliable clean energy.
Businesses recognize the value of this approach. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently announced its support of a “market-based approach to accelerate emissions reductions,” and the Business Roundtable has explicitly endorsed a carbon price.
It’s not every day Congress considers a policy to reduce emissions, save lives, benefit business, and put money in people’s pockets. Every member of California’s congressional delegation should take a serious look at this bill.
Californians are ready for results. Public polling shows 58% of people in Ventura County want Congress to do more to address global warming. That desire defies partisanship, with majority support for climate action from Republican and Democratic voters nationwide. The Energy Innovation Act is a good step forward to put America on the fast track to a healthy, prosperous future.
Jan Dietrick is the Founding Chapter Co-Leader of the Ventura Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby since 2013. Mark Reynolds has been the executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby since 2008.
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