THE CASE FOR A FEE ON FOSSIL FUEL EMISSIONS
As I type this article, a voice on the radio reports in an unemotional monotone on yet another natural gas explosion. This time it is in Kentucky and took another vibrant human life and injured five other people. Sun Prairie exploded not that long ago from another gas leak. Another life taken.
Coal dust clogs the lungs of today’s young coal miners creating a generation of high school students in mining country whose fathers will likely not be alive to watch them receive a diploma. More lives sacrificed unnecessarily for the dirtiest fossil fuel we can easily do without.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration logged 137 oil spills in the U.S. alone in 2018. The largest of these happened in Superior, Wisconsin where a refinery explosion unleashed 2.1 million gallons of oil close to the shore of the Lake Superior.
At the bottom of the continent, just off the coast of Louisiana, a sunken oil platform owned by Taylor Energy has been pouring oil into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 300 to 700 barrels each and every day since 2004. Imagine the environmental toll.
Without even mentioning the advancing climate crisis, a persuasive case for making the transition to cleaner, safer, healthier renewable energy is being made disaster by disaster around the world every day.
We watch story after story of deadly destructive flooding all over the world. Folks carrying pets, a child or an elder, as they wade waist deep in murky water cross our news feeds almost daily.
Forest fires burn, not just in the western USA but in Canada and throughout the Arctic. The smoke from these fires in the far north cause air quality alerts in our neck of the woods this summer.
Record heatwaves wither strong healthy people around the world. Greenland ice is melting in startling amounts. Melting glaciers around the world raise the water level. That will cause one billion coastal dwellers to leave their home and flee inland. The social chaos that kind of migration will engender already has our military worried in a big way.
These lists could go on and on. Scientists warn us to ditch coal, oil and gas now before we reach one of nature’s tipping points. Earth’s own forces will take us beyond the point of no return.
And yet, for the overwhelming majority of us, renewable energy and electric cars don’t really show up on our personal horizons. We don’t take the hungry troll under the bridge very seriously.
Instead of electric cars, we are buying pick-ups and SUVs. My electric co-op scoffs at the idea of a solar farm. Is it any wonder that atmospheric CO2 is increasing at record rates instead of going down?
Around the world, spending on new renewable energy projects is dropping rather than increasing. We are running, not walking, to our dinner date with the troll.
Economists, scientists, mayors, governors and presidential candidates are pressing harder and harder for a price on carbon emissions that grows steadily year by year. That is why a grassroots organization called the Citizen’s Climate Lobby has worked respectfully, but doggedly, for years to build the political will to do just that.
It is why HR763 the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act is the best hope we have to avoid the disastrous end.
To get most of us to stop smoking it was necessary to make tobacco uncomfortably expensive. To get us to dive into the renewable energy pool and to put an electric car in our garage, HR763 makes the price of fossil fuels uncomfortable enough that we’ll do what we need to do to stabilize our climate.
HR763 returns all money collected from the fee on fossil fuel emissions back to you and me. If we want bi-partisan support we’ll need to keep this from looking like a tax.
HR763 would give investors a clear sense of where our economy is headed and encourage them to invest in new energy. New climate healthy technologies will bring careers with comfortable wages. Our economy will grow rather than stumble.
Instead of parking our old gas guzzlers and being forced to walk, we will drive a quiet, smooth electric car that we’ll love, as is the case with folks who already own one. More innovation in solar and wind energy and storage will give us peace of mind in a safer, healthier world.
Each one of us faces crucial decisions. Will we heed both the science and the evidence that we face a true climate crisis? Will we make the transition to renewable energy? Or will we push it all to sidelines and stay on track for our date with the climate troll?
Within the past month three more bills were introduced between the House and the Senate, all of them, price carbon. We need to pass an HR763 and we need it now. Hopefully, our legislators will give posterity a livable planet. Encouraging them to do so is up to us.