Together we can help stabilize our climate

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Guest Opinion By Alex Amonette
Thursday, August 26, 2021
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In response to “Oil, gas can fuel Montana’s economic recovery” (Glendive Ranger-Review, 8-5-21), I’d like to offer a conservative and bipartisan solution: carbon pricing in the form of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA; HR 2307).

Officials expressed their concern about the need to protect county budgets, some of which rely on fossil fuel production, as we take steps towards the upcoming energy transition based on non-carbon energy sources.

They have also expressed concerns about the severe climate change-fueled drought and heat gripping Montana. The high temperatures increase evaporation and intensify the drought.

As these officials rightly point out, people in Richland are “suffering from category D3 - Extreme Drought” with “Major crop/pasture losses” and “Widespread water shortages or restrictions. While only 5.6% of Montana was in that category, 86.73% of Richland County was in that category” (https://www.roundupweb.com/story/2021/04/21/news/richland-county-commiss...).

We don’t agree on everything, but we all agree that everyone needs clean air, fresh water, and a stable climate—the one that’s been in place for the past 10,000 years.

Our path forward is to reduce the carbon emissions that are heating the atmosphere. It’s changing our environment in ways harmful to all of us – farmers, business people, ranchers, consumers, fishing and hunting guides and numerous other folks who support and make up our economy.

Carbon pricing is supported by many municipalities across the USA and here in Montana (https://www. usnews.com/news/best-states/montana/articles/2021-08-15/montana-town-looks-at-clean-energy-as-climate-changes).

It’s popular because it balances the need to both protect the economy and create jobs while reducing emissions and smoothing the transition, which the officials note will take time and patience.

During this transition, no one should have to choose between putting food on the table, buying medicines, and keeping the lights on.

Our representatives know we need to address climate change while we grow the economy. They want to consider legislation that protects families, creates millions of jobs, and has maximum environmental benefit. The EICDA meets those criteria.

In this bill, a gradually rising and predictable fee is placed on carbon pollution at the source (well, mine, port). The money collected from fossil fuel companies goes to Americans in the form of a gradually rising and predictable monthly ‘carbon cash back’ payment so everyone, including those who can least afford a price increase, can make the transition.

Fossil fuels and carbon intensive goods are border adjusted; imports pay a fee equivalent to the current US price and exports receive a refund, protecting US jobs.

An economy-wide carbon price will reduce America’s carbon pollution fast by sending an economic signal to which businesses respond by developing new sources of low carbon energy. The USA already is the world’s leader in technology innovation. When we have a price on carbon, it sends a signal through the economy.

With new innovations, we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions with affordable, reliable, and abundant low carbon energy, driving all of us faster toward net zero carbon pollution.

Businesses remain financially stable thanks to the predictable and gradually rising price on carbon. There is no need to spend money on complicated new rules and regulations.

In 30 years, our country could save $800 billion each year or over $6,000 per household. If we continue business as usual, our economy will shrink by up to 7% due to the increased costs of climate change (https://citizensclimatelobby.org/price-on-carbon/).

Please ask Senators Tester and Daines to put a price on carbon this summer. Contact them here: cclusa.org/senate. Contact Representative Rosendale here: https://citizensclimatelobby.org/house/.

As I write this, I’m breathing unhealthy air -- there is lots of smoke. It’s 90 degrees outside. Many ranchers are selling cattle, can’t afford to buy hay, cutting back on water, and walking away from dryland crops because nothing is growing due to the severe drought.

Together, we can help stabilize our climate, fuel our economic recovery, protect our county budgets, and transition to a new low-carbon energy economy. Please see https://citizensclimatelobby.org/ to learn more about this powerful policy proposal.

Alex Amonette, a businesswoman, volunteers with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and is a member of the Sweet Grass County Chamber of Commerce.

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