Members of Delaware’s Citizens’ Climate Lobby chapter, along with members of hundreds of CCL chapters nationwide, last week celebrated the introduction of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act in the House of Representatives just three weeks into the 116th Congress.
“We were thrilled to see a bipartisan group introduce this important bill in Congress. We’ll get right down to work building support for it,” said Marianne Gabel, longtime member and leader of Delaware’s CCL chapter. “Our chapter just turned five years old, and this was a great way to celebrate that birthday.”
“The changing climate is becoming more and more visible in central Ohio as well as across the country, and polling shows that the majority of Americans now can see it happening,” said member and OWU professor Laurie Anderson. “Two big effects in central Ohio are rising heat levels and more intense storms bringing more rain.
“It’s an urgent problem with the potential to affect our lives and our children’s lives in destructive ways. This bill is the best first step, since it will get to work fast, be fair, and be effective,” she added.
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act would put a fee on carbon emissions at the wellhead or the coal mine, said member John Krieger. The fee would rise by a predictable amount every year, he said, and the proceeds would be distributed to all Americans – one share per person and half a share for each child.
The discussion reviewed the theory of the bill: that starting at once, clean and renewable energy would begin to get cheaper compared to carbon-based energy, building the incentive and demand for more. Most middle- to low-income Americans would find that the amount of the dividend would cover the increase in their carbon-based expenses. They could use the dividend as they wish, and they could also save more of it by lowering their own use of carbon.
Agricultural fuel would be exempt from the fee, and there would be an adjustment at the nation’s borders to protect American products from foreign competitors facing no carbon fee.
“This market-based bill will bring down U.S. carbon emissions to 40 percent of 2015 levels by 2030,” said member Alice Frazier. “The target reduction is 90 percent by 2050.”
Member Linda Diamond noted that Americans would be healthier because they’d be breathing cleaner air; and that the dividend being spent in the economy would create an estimated 2.1 million jobs in the first 10 years.
After the Delaware CCL chapter was launched five years ago, its members quickly outgrew their first meeting place. Monthly meetings now draw an enthusiastic group of members who communicate with Ohio’s representatives and senators, write letters to the editor, table at local events, present programs to organizations, and work with local officials to encourage climate change solution awareness.
CCL chapter members gather at regional and national meetings; the tenth annual national meeting in June will bring hundreds of CCL members to Washington, D.C., where members will meet with almost every Congressional office on Capitol Hill.
The September 2017 announcement that then-Rep. Patrick Tiberi would join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus was applauded by the local CCL chapter. Several members had met with Tiberi in his Worthington office the previous May to brief the Republican lawmaker about CCL’s proposal for a carbon fee and dividend plan: a steadily rising fee on carbon, with all receipts returned to households in equal shares per person (the “dividend”). During the meeting, Tiberi called the proposal “intriguing,” and he praised the group’s non-confrontational style. Not long after convening a meeting with CCL and some local businesses, Tiberi joined the caucus.
In January 2018, Tiberi left Congress to become president of the Ohio Business Roundtable. Delaware CCL members are looking forward to a productive relationship with his replacement, Rep. Troy Balderson, having already had an initial meeting with his in-district staffer, Lucas Crumley, in the congressman’s Worthington office.
Member Margo Bartlett said that’s the CCL way: to approach climate change with optimism and confidence, and to approach others with appreciation and respect as well as dialog and information. The national CCL website, she noted, says, “We listen, we work to find common values, and we endeavor to understand our own biases. We are honest and firm. … Our approach is to build consensus – that’s what will bring enduring change.”
For more information about CCL, visit https://citizensclimatelobby.org.
Submitted by the Delaware chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.