Lately, many societal changes needed to reduce climate change have been stymied by government officials receiving large campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry. Granted, citizens seeking to stem climate change have been adjusting their lifestyles-buying locally-grown food, increasing energy efficiency in homes, trading car miles for bicycle miles, eating less meat, and so on. However, these actions have limited impacts; most of us directly affect the ecological footprints of only ourselves and our families. Also, changing where our food comes from can be difficult, and we have become accustomed to our automobiles.
Late November brought a big change politically, though: Two Republicans and three Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. This bill provides a pathway for the United States to transition, gradually, from burning coal, oil and natural gas towards clean energy.
Experts predict it will reduce America’s carbon emissions by 33 percent within 10 years. By removing toxins from the environment, it will improve health and save lives. Its carbon dividend puts money directly into the pockets of all Americans, every month, to spend as they see fit. Economists estimate it will create 2.1 million additional jobs over the next 10 years, thanks to growth in solar, wind, biofuels, etc. Also, the bill will not grow government, since all fees (minus administrative costs) are returned to Americans.
Personal lifestyle choices still matter; each of us can improve the environment in so many small ways. That said, our collective choices, including how to source our energy needs, can be much more impactful. Hence, I hope the millions of Americans who want the best for themselves and future generations will learn more about this bill (H.R.7173), and encourage their representatives to support it.
Andrew Hartley, Ph.D.