Elon Musk announced a $100 million prize for a breakthrough in carbon capture technology. The prize will be awarded to a team that can design a process that removes a billion tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year and locks it away in an environmentally benign manner. That’s a wonderful incentive for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but what can I do as an individual to keep carbon dioxide from getting into the atmosphere? Is there a legislative incentive to reduce carbon dioxide that I can support? Yes! It’s not as exciting as Musk’s prize, but it’s already being considered by Congress. It’s the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act imposes a fee on the carbon content of fossil fuels, including crude oil, natural gas and coal, which when burned, all emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The bill had 86 cosponsors in the last Congress and was reintroduced on April 1 in the current Congress.
Many voters in the Santa Clarita Valley support policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy. But many of us worry that putting a price on carbon will hurt the economy just when we need to recover from the economic devastation of the pandemic.
Noah Kaufman of Columbia University studied the effectiveness of a carbon tax from both an environmental and economic perspective. His study found that an effective carbon pricing policy will cut emissions faster than regulations. Companies and investors will make decisions based on maximizing profits in a way that focuses on clean energy and energy efficiency.
Another study of carbon fee and dividend by Regional Economic Models Inc. shows that in 10 years, the top three industry winners from a CFD program in the Pacific region would be real estate (+$5.98 billion to gross regional product), retail trade (+$4.70 billion) and ambulatory health services (+$4.65 billion), all of which are well represented in our congressional district. The Pacific region shows the greatest growth in GRP (gross regional product) resulting from the CFD policy, peaking at +$34 billion.
In addition, a carbon pricing policy with a border carbon adjustment will keep U.S. industries on a level playing field with our international trading partners. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act also includes a dividend, so that a carbon pricing policy will not economically hurt those least able to pay additional fees for goods and services.
Last September I was driving to the Ventura Beach area to get away from the oppressive heat in the SCV. As I drove west the outside temperature kept climbing. As I drove through Santa Paula the news reported a temperature of 120 degrees! This weather event convinced me I had to become involved in supporting legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
I’m not clever enough to design a carbon dioxide removal process on the scale of the Elon Musk prize, but I can get involved in local, state and national politics to support carbon pricing so there is less carbon dioxide to remove. If you want to get involved in the carbon pricing effort, contact your local Citizens’ Climate Lobby at citizensclimatelobby.org/ or [email protected]
Member, Santa Clarita Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby