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Proposed environmental bill sets realistic climate goals

Claire Cohen-Norris has lived in Glen Spey, NY, since 2006. She is a biology teacher and former attorney and has volunteered with Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) for almost five years. CCL worked with Congressman Chris Gibson to introduce a resolution that led to the creation of the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, which ultimately has led to the bipartisan introduction of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, currently in the House. 


Have you noticed it’s rained a lot this year? I sure have. Did you know that scientists have been predicting the Northeast would get this rain as the global temperatures rise? Yup. This is exactly what’s predicted with climate change.

The recent Intergovernmental Government Panel on Climate Chance (IPCC) report and National Climate Assessment tell us what we see with our own senses. The climate is changing—fast.

The IPCC also tells us that we have to cut our emissions in half-—in half—by 2030, to avoid devastating levels of warming. What we are seeing now is just a “drop in the bucket,” according to the report.

Half? That’s crazy. Most of us don’t even know where half of our emissions are coming from, can’t afford to buy EVs and solar panels and aren’t even aware that we have to cut emissions. It’s easy to understand the doomsayers, right?

But here’s the thing: the vast majority of economic decisions made in this country that drive emissions are made by the wealthiest and by corporations. Most of us don’t have yachts to fuel or mansions to heat. The largest segments of the population are the least responsible for climate change and the least able to address it.

So it is time to stop expecting individuals to fix the climate problem on our own.

It’s time to implement policy that pushes the wealthy and corporations to make better decisions, to buy electric vehicles, to pay for grid-scale solar and to buy battery storage. Those that are producing most of the emissions are also in the best position to build up EV charging infrastructure, to drive economies of scale by buying EVs, solar and battery storage, driving down costs for the rest of us.

We need policy that moves the wealthy and corporations to do that, while the poor and middle class are protected from increasing energy costs. Sounds impossible, right?

There is a policy that does just that, while also growing the economy, adding jobs and cutting emissions by 40% by 2030.

And the crazy part? It was introduced into Congress in November, by Republicans and Democrats together.

How it works: H.R. 7173, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA), levies a fee on all fossil fuels at the mine, well, or port. The fee is $15/ton of CO2, rising $10/ton annually. All collected monies are returned to all those with a social security or individual taxpayer identification number equally, each month (children receive half shares). If you have a small footprint, you pay less in the fee, but you still get the full monthly dividend. If you have a large footprint, you pay more in the fee, and, still, you get the same monthly dividend as everyone else.

Everyone gets a monthly check. Everyone has incentive to spend less of it on carbon.

What is impressive about this bill is that it recognizes that we all, on both sides of the aisle, not only share a desire to preserve a safe climate, but also that we all want to make a living, we all want control in decisions over our lives and we all want fairness. This bill addresses these major concerns:

 1. The higher price of carbon-emitting fuels makes them less attractive, but government doesn’t decide what someone should buy. Individuals figure out how to best cut emissions consistently with their needs.

2. EICDA will grow our economy and add 2.1 million jobs over 10 years. Money in our pockets each month gets spent. This is the opposite of trickle-down. This is well-up.

3. It is not fair to burden the poor and middle class with investing in expensive technology. Under EICDA, because the poor and middle class consume less, the monthly dividend for these two-thirds of Americans exceeds the fees they pay. Meanwhile, those with heavy consumption—the wealthy and corporations—use their capital to drive low-carbon solutions, building up infrastructure and driving down costs.

This bill does what no other climate legislation does. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act taxes fossil fuel companies for each ton of carbon and gives that money to every one of us—by check, each month.

It even mails us the first month’s dividends before the taxes are collected, so we never feel a cash flow pinch.

Want climate policy that our nation can get behind and stay behind? This is it.

Please thank EICDA’s sponsors: Reps. Rooney (R-FL), Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Deutch (D-FL), Delaney (D-MD), Crist (D-FL), Trott (R-MI).

Read more about the bill at

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