OPED: Bipartisan solution to climate change is here

Jon Clark
Citizens' Climate Lobby
FILE - This Oct. 12, 2018 aerial file photo shows devastation from Hurricane Michael over Mexico Beach, Fla. A massive new federal report warns that extreme weather disasters, like California’s wildfires and 2018’s hurricanes, are worsening in the United States. The White House report quietly issued Friday, Nov. 23 also frequently contradicts President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

The York Dispatch editorial “Cold Truths on Global Warming” is timely and spot on.  As you point out in your editorial, the Aug. 31 flooding in York and Lancaster counties destroyed homes, bridges and roads, leaving Pennsylvania residents to foot the bill for millions of dollars in damages.

The U.S. House of Representatives is showing signs they are making climate change a “bridge issue” to unite both political parties rather than a “wedge issue” used to attack political opponents. 

This is evidenced with the 90 members of the Climate Solutions Caucus (45 Republicans and 45 Democrats) working to educate themselves on climate solutions and, more importantly, the landmark bipartisan bill introduced in the House last week to put a price on carbon pollution.

For the first time in a decade, members from both parties introduced a bill to put a price on carbon pollution. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (HR 7173) was introduced in the House of Representatives last week.

The bill creates “a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund for the American people in order to encourage market-driven innovation of clean energy technologies and market efficiencies that will reduce harmful pollution and leave a healthier, more stable and more prosperous nation for future generations” according to text on 

The bill is already sponsored by six champions of climate solutions: Rep. Ted Deutsch, D-Florda; Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pennsylvania; Rep. John Delaney, D-Maryland; Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Florida; Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Florida; and Rep. Dave Trott, R-Michigan.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act is similar to the Fee and Dividend legislation Citizens Climate Lobby has been proposing for years, but in some ways it differs. 

Jon Clark

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Here’s how it’s similar. The carbon fee is assessed on coal, oil and natural gas at the first point of sale. The carbon fee starts at $15 per metric ton of potential carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and increases by $10/ton each succeeding year. The carbon fee increases until U.S. emissions have been reduced by 90 percent. A border carbon adjustment is applied to carbon-intensive, trade-exposed goods that are imported or exported.

There are a few ways The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act differs from what CCL’s been advocating for.

There is a provision for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), giving a refund to companies that safely capture and sequester (or bury underground) any carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels. There is an exemption for diesel fuel used by farmers.

There is very limited temporary roll-back of regulations related to greenhouse gases covered by the carbon fee. After 10 years, if emission targets in the bill are not being met, regulatory authority over covered emissions would be restored. Carbon dividend payments will begin before the first carbon fee collection. The bill contains a provision for an “advance payment” of the first month’s dividend to all recipients in the month prior to the collection of the carbon fee.

Also, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act does not limit child dividends to two per household as the Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal did. All dependent children under 19 years old in an eligible household will be entitled to receive a half-share carbon dividend.

This climate solution will be good for our economy as it is expected to create 2.1 million additional jobs in a new clean energy economy. It will improve the health of Americans and save lives as the carbon pollution we breathe will be reduced and our air quality improves. This will occur when energy generated from fossil fuels becomes more costly as a result of the carbon fee and Americans turn to cleaner, carbon-free sources of energy. 

Additionally, the dividend will put money directly into the pockets of Americans to spend as they wish.

Anyone wanting to see the details of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act can go to 

I urge Rep. Lloyd Smucker and Rep. Scott Perry to bridge the partisan divide on climate change and support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

— Jon Clark is Mid-Atlantic regional co-coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby and lives in Lancaster.