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Native Sun News: Climate change group headed to DC to lobby

The following story was written and reported by Talli Nauman, Native Sun News Health & Environment Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

When a Rapid City resident goes to Washington, D.C. to lobby for a tax on greenhouse gas emissions this June 24, it won’t be the first time her organization is there, as members posed in 2013 on Capitol Hill. Photo courtesy of Climate Change Lobby.

Rapid City chapter of Climate Change Lobby goes to bat against greenhouse gas
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News
Health & Environment Editor

RAPID CITY — When the Climate Change Lobby planted its flag here this spring, the local chapter of the international non-profit group took a stand in the middle of a vast space on the U.S. map with no other outposts of the organization.

Now its co-anchor Mary Deibert is volunteering with members from hundreds of other chapters around the country traveling to Washington, D.C. to convince federal representatives to vote for legislation to moderate climate change.

“Congressional action on a carbon tax is the best first step to addressing the problem,” she told the Native Sun News on June 6.

Maryland Rep. John Delaney recently announced he would propose a bill that would give states the option to implement a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, in order to comply with new EPA regulations.

The proposal, although it is not the only potential tool for taxing greenhouse gas releases, could be especially timely in the wake of EPA’s June 2 announcement of regulations that clamp down on states’ for their contributions to air pollution from power plants.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan announced by Administrator Gina McCarthy, institutes carbon reduction measures under the Clean Air Act to fit into the Obama Administration’s larger Climate Action Plan. It allows states free rein to decide on the methods they use to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

“We appreciate and respect the Obama Administration for trying to do something about this crucial issue for the whole planet,” Deibert said. However, she added, “The EPA rules alone will not solve the problem, and doing nothing is not an option.”

Citizen’s Climate Lobby is trying to create political will to reduce carbon emissions in order to slow the rate of climate change, she said.

Toward that end Deibert expects to present lawmakers with a new report commissioned by CCL and released in the wake of the EPA announcement.

While power plants are the biggest single carbon dioxide emitter in the United States, the CCL study shows that a the 30-percent reduction could be obtained by 2025 through a steadily rising carbon tax that would spread the responsibility around, Deibert noted.

It would also spread the rewards, she said. “Unlike regulations, a carbon tax produces a stream of revenue. To avoid increased government spending, the revenues from the carbon tax should be returned directly to households,” she said.

A tax on carbon also can add jobs to the economy, according to the research conducted for CCL by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), which has provided economic impact studies for governmental and private-sector clients, including the Atlanta Regional Commission, consulting firms Booz Allen Hamilton and Ernst & Young, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The research considers a tax on the carbon-dioxide content of fossil fuels that would start at $10 per ton, increasing at $10 per ton each year. Revenue from the tax would be returned to households in equal shares as direct payments.

Under this approach, the REMI study found, cycling the revenue back into the economy would add 2.2 million jobs over 10 years. Meanwhile the incentive for improvements in air quality would save 13,000 lives a year, as emissions would decline by 33 percent.

“What this study shows is that by giving the revenue back to the people, a carbon tax will actually stimulate the economy,” CCL Executive Director Mark Reynolds said in announcing the findings. “The big knock on a carbon taxes has been that it would kill jobs. That assumption is now blown out of the water.”

Leading up to the EPA announcement, the National Climate Assessment reported in May that the impact of climate change is being felt across the nation in the form of severe drought, rising sea levels, extreme weather, wildfires and heat waves.

The International Energy Agency recently concluded that delaying the transition to low-carbon energy production by just two years, would increase the cost of the transition by $4 trillion, Deibert noted.

Waiting for implementation of EPA regulations and the settlement of lawsuits they may engender will probably take at least that long, she said.

“In contrast to regulations, a carbon tax can be implemented quickly, saving money and decreasing the chances of crossing tipping points that shall lead to catastrophic global warming,” she said.

Economists across the political spectrum agree that an economy-wide carbon tax would produce greater emission reductions at substantially lower cost than a power-sector-only approach.

The Brookings Institute produced findings that the burden of reduction in a power-sector-only approach is born almost exclusively by the coal industry, whereas a tax is spread throughout the economy and across industries.

The tax-incentive to reduce carbon is supposed to make polluters switch to cleaner methods to become more competitive, thereby offsetting the increased costs and eliminating any need to pass them along to consumers.

British Colombia has had carbon taxation in place since 2008 with positive results and welcome tax returns to citizens. California, Oregon and Washington states are working on similar schemes.

Highlights from the study’s findings on instituting a carbon-tax, which is technically called a “Fee and Dividend (FAD) policy include:
• A predicted decline of 33 percent in carbon emissions after only 10 years, and a 52-percent reduction after 20, relative to baseline.
•An expected employment increase of 2.1 million jobs after 10 years, and 2.8 million after 20 years – or more than a 1-percent increase in total U.S. employment.
• Some 227,000 American lives will be saved over 20 years.
• A $70-$85-billion increase in GDP will be seen from 2020 on.

The Citizens Climate Lobby in Rapid City plans to hold meetings on the first Saturday of each month and takes part in periodic national conference calls with climate experts.

(Contact Talli Nauman NSN Health and Environment Editor at talli.nauman@gmail.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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