About 160 local people are part of a nationwide grassroots group that is trying to get Congress to pass a far-reaching environmental measure.
No, it’s not the Green New Deal.
The Citizens Climate Lobby has worked for over a decade on the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, a “lasting solution. Listen to the experts – scientists and economists,” CCL member Ted Larson Freeman said.
The lobbying group involves members from Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo and Kingston. The result of the act would be a reduction of U.S. emissions by at least 40 percent in its first 12 years.
The concept involves charging a fee for the amount of carbon a product produces. The more the carbon, the more the fee. However, it’s not really a tax because funds collected are then returned to citizens in the form of a rebate.
Most of the rebates go back to families in the bottom 50 percent of those who pay the fee. “The bottom half of people come out ahead,” Larson Freeman said.
The process creates an incentive for businesses to become more environmentally friendly. And consumers get lower prices if they buy products that produce less carbon.
The bill has 86 co-sponsors, including Derek Kilmer, D-6th District. Kilmer’s a good one for them to connect with for bipartisan support as he’s already leading such a group in Congress.
“It’s not a partisan issue,” Larson Freeman said of climate concerns.
Another BI CCL member, Mike Kelly, agreed.
“Bipartisan is the right way to do things,” he said. “Then you’re not playing political football every few years.”
Larson Freeman said the GOP seems to be more engaged this year because it’s not the Green New Deal, which is far more reaching and costly.
Kelly added, “There’s all kinds of opportunity for innovation,” including 2.1 million new jobs.
Kelly said yet another option would be more regulations, which would lead to more costs, like in California.
“That would be hard to push through,” Kelly said.
Since climate change is a global issue, the carbon fee concept would also be charged on imports based on their footprint. The goal there is for other countries to set up their own similar fee systems, so they, too, would collect fees to get businesses to be more environmentally friendly.
“It would have a cascading effect around the whole world,” Larson Freeman said.
The CCL has about 100,000 members in 600 local chapters nationwide and is making inroads with businesses like the skiing and brewing industries. Giants like Microsoft and Amazon also are making eco-friendly moves.
The BI CCL is working with its other state groups to get all Congress members on board.
While it is focused on the federal level, it’s aware of state and local climate change issues and groups, too.
“It needs to be fair, durable and effective,” BI CCL member Bobbie Morgan said of any state efforts.
Another possibility would be another statewide vote on a carbon tax.
The local CCL hopes to have an online forum in March to inform the public about their effort. In June, again probably online, they will meet with leaders in Washington, D.C. Depending on the COVID-19 pandemic, they may be able to lobby in person in November.