A grassroots environmental lobbying group gathered in the nation’s capital recently to stir federal action on climate change, and to press Congress to enact bipartisan legislation that will tax carbon producers at the source and give the collected funds back to U.S. citizens.
The volunteer-based Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) held its International Conference in Washington, D.C., July 22–24, with a priority of promoting the Carbon Fee and Dividend Act.
“We believe [that] because of the nature of the proposal, it appeals to both sides,” CCL Executive Director Mark Reynolds said.
The proposal, if enacted, would “impose a carbon fee on all fossil fuels at the point where they first enter the economy.” Such fee would be collected by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The fee rate would be $15 per ton of CO2 on carbon-based fuels. The money would then be held in a Carbon Fee Trust Fund, and from there “be rebated 100 percent to American households.”
According to CCL, each citizen would receive an equal share on a monthly dividend basis. Children under 18 would receive half a share, with up to two children per household eligible.
CCL also is looking to the Department of Energy to regulate CO2-equivalent fees for other greenhouse gases, such as methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, and others.
The proposal also seeks to level the playing field for emerging green technologies. “The yearly increase in carbon fees, including other greenhouse gases, shall be at least $10 per ton of CO2-equivalent each year to ensure that fossil fuel energy loses its competitive price advantage with respect to the clean energy technologies we have today,” the proposal states.
Environmental attorney Chris Byrd spoke out about a possible problem with the economics of the Carbon Fee and Dividend Act: causing U.S. goods to lose their competitive pricing in overseas markets, according to CCL’s website.
The group proposed placing Carbon-Fee-Equivalent Tariffs on goods entering the country from countries without carbon fees or the equivalent. Conversely, countries with carbon fees in place or the equivalent would receive rebates to lower the cost of those goods entering the United States. International trade and carbon fee/rebate pricing would be managed by the Commerce Department.
The legislation mirrors bills from CCL supporters Rep. John B. Larson (D-Conn.) and former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.). Larson proposed a similar carbon tax on polluters, with the money being returned as a payroll tax credit.
The Save Our Climate Act of 2011 also proposes a tax on carbon, with revenue being returned to citizens. The act is currently in the committee phase of becoming a law, and has yet to reach the House or Senate.
Former Rep. Inglis, a conservative and CCL supporter, along with former Reagan economic adviser Art Laffer, pushes for a reduction and shift from our current income tax-based system to a carbon tax-based system for funding our government. The proposed shift, according to the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, would put innovation and carbon responsibility into the hands of the entrepreneurs, making them responsible for a cleaner environment.
Citizens Climate Lobby is a 4-year-old organization with 46 chapters in the United States and Canada. The group was started by Marshall Saunders, a former real estate broker who became increasingly concerned over climate change, and the influence of fossil-fuel special interests on Congress, according to biographical information on citizensclimatelobby.org.
With 17 years of experience as a volunteer lobbyist, Saunders is a committed community activist. He serves as the managing director of Grameen de la Frontera, a microcredit bank in Sonora, Mexico, and is a leader of RESULTS in San Diego, a grass-roots citizens lobby to create the political will to end hunger and poverty.
Saunders eventually came to the conclusion that “if we don’t do something about climate change, these people will have nowhere to live … we need to go deep within the members of Congress to get things done,” according to Steve Valk, communications director for CCL.
“We are approaching a climate cliff,” Valk said. “Do we want to make [the fossil industrialists] happy, or do we want a livable world? I would choose a livable world. I can make a difference by talking to Congress and taking back my democracy.”
The weekend of July 22–24 marked CCL’s third conference, with the highest turnout yet. Present were CCL volunteers, supporters, guest speakers, and five members of Congress. Afterward, the lobby group met with approximately 300 congressional offices to gain support for their initiative.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.