Why carbon pollution pricing?
Carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels is the main cause of global warming. Massachusetts state law requires that we cut greenhouse gas emissions to 25 % below the 1990 level by 2020 and to at least 80% below 1990 by 2050. There are currently two bills in the Massachusetts State legislature (House 1726 and Senate 1821). Both would implement a fee on carbon pollution. Such a fee on carbon emissions would create a strong incentive to shift from fossil fuels to energy efficiency, clean energy, and clean transportation. Worldwide, most economists and policy experts believe that carbon pricing is the most effective policy to achieve the deep cuts in emissions that are needed to stabilize our climate.
Legislation proposed in Massachusetts
House Bill 1726 is centered on a “revenue positive” model that foresees the introduction of a Green Infrastructure Fund (GIF) towards which 20 percent of the funds raised through a carbon fee would go. This $200-$400 million a year would help municipalities invest in transportation, resiliency to climate change, and clean energy projects that reduce emissions and create local economic development. Those communities with median incomes in the bottom third of the state average would receive at least a third of the investments.
The carbon pollution charge would start at $20 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions in H.1726 and $10 in S.1821, then would increase $5 a year until it reached $40 per ton under both bills. 80 percent of the revenue would go to rebates to households and employers under H.1726, with 100 percent going to rebates under S.1821, with separate funds for each group.
The bills are designed to protect low- to middle-income households and those living in rural areas, by giving them rebates that, on average, exceed the carbon fees they would pay. Households in rural areas, where it’s necessary to drive more than average, would receive higher rebates to offset this disadvantage.
Both bills provide a plan to allocate rebates to employers based on their number of employees. In addition, business sectors that are energy-intensive and face strong competition from out-of-state companies would receive higher rebates.
Senate Bill 1821 focuses on a revenue neutral model that returns all funds raised from sales to households in the form of an equal rebate per person. House 1726, while using 20 percent of the funds for investment in programs, then allocates higher rebates to lower-income people than to higher-income ones. and businesses that are energy-intensive and face stiff out-of-state competition would receive additional rebates as well.
Support for the Bills
About 90 state Senators and Representatives have already committed to support the bills, which brings us close to half of the 200 total legislators. We need a dozen votes to have a clear majority in the House, and Senator Paul Feeney of Sharon is a key legislator whose support we need to garner. In an effort to gain his support, we are reaching out to environmental and sustainability organizations in his district who may want to help pass carbon pollution pricing.
There are several ways in which constituents can reach out to their legislators.
A few members of Climate XChange will give a short presentation on carbon pricing at the Sustainable Sharon Coalition’s February 14 meeting and will be more than happy to answer any questions on carbon pricing or on how to approach your legislator and ask for his support for one or both of these bills.
Founded in 2013, Climate XChange (CXC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has been advocating a market-based solution to climate change since its inception. Currently, the organization’s focus lies on gathering support for these two bills. This organization’s members come from very diverse backgrounds. Economists, business leaders and concerned citizens put their concerted effort into gathering support for comprehensive policy solutions to the threat that climate change poses today. In 2014, the organization entered into a formal coalition with other environmental, business, and civic organizations, the Massachusetts Campaign for A Clean Energy Future. In 2016, Climate XChange merged with the Climate Action Business Association. Most recently, CXC has taken over operation of the State Carbon Pricing Network, which coordinates communication among groups working on this nationwide, and provides resources such as helping with design of legislation and doing studies on the economic and greenhouse gas impacts of carbon pricing policies. .
For further information: please see our website, www.Climate-XChange.org