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Support proposed EICDA

By Staff | Feb 26, 2019

To the editor:

As a seasonal visitor who loves Sanibel, I read with interest the story about the presentation to city council on the island’s vulnerability to sea-level rise and storms. Warming oceans expand, and they also launch more moisture into the atmosphere, which intensifies the “standard model” storms. The last few years of storms are a troubling example.

A stalled Congress has taken no action about the threat, but that may change. In January, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA) was introduced in Congress by a bipartisan group. It is co-sponsored by, among others, Sanibel’s Congressman Francis Rooney and also by Florida Reps. Ted Deutch and Charlie Crist. A previous version introduced last December was cosponsored by Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

Support for this bill is critical, given the short time that we have for protecting ourselves and our precious natural resources. Residents should contact Rooney (and visitors their own representatives) to express their support for the bill.

How will it work? The primary cause of global warming is the burning of carbon in fossil fuels. This bill would impose a fee on carbon (starting at $15 per metric ton of CO2 released) paid at the fossil fuel well-head or mine. The fee would rise by $10 per year. This system will be market-based (not regulatory), transparent and predictable, which gives it bipartisan appeal. Any climate policy, to be successful, must have bipartisan support.

Foreseeing higher prices (predictability is important), businesses will plan a rapid transition to clean/renewable energy; demand will foster innovation, competition and lower prices, especially compared to the rising prices for fossil fuels. Prices for carbon-carrying products will rise during the transition, but here’s the good news: all funds collected would be returned to individual people as a “dividend” for whatever they want to spend it on. Nothing would go to the government except for an administration fee to the Treasury.

Every month, like Social Security payments, every American with a Social Security number would get an equal share of the collections. Every child under 19 would be allocated a one-half share. For the majority of middle and lower income Americans, the dividend (increasing every year with the proceeds of the annually rising carbon fee) would cover the increased costs of the transitioning economy. People could also choose lower-carbon alternatives (green energy, fuel-efficient cars, home insulation, “smart” metering) to save more of their dividend.

Importantly for Florida, there would be an exception for fuel used in agriculture. There would also be an equalizing system at the nation’s borders to protect American goods from foreign competition from no-carbon-fee countries.

Under this plan, U.S. emissions will be targeted to decrease by 90 percent by 2050. If the reduction trajectory is falling short after 10 years, there are provisions for additional steps to reduce emissions faster.

Big “side benefits” – with less carbon in the air, Americans would be healthier. The dividend money that they spend into the economy would stimulate jobs.

More information about the EICDA is at energyinnovationact.org. The national group Citizens’ Climate Lobby, of which I am a member, has several hundred chapters around the country working to move this bill forward, including a chapter in Fort Myers (ftmyers@citizensclimatelobby.org).

Make your voice heard: Tell Congress to get moving against climate change.

Marianne Gabel

Delaware, Ohio