Editor,

While the world watches the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the Supreme Court quietly made an ominous decision that ultimately could frustrate efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Several states and coal companies petitioned the court to weigh in on the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The court accepted those petitions and is likely to issue a decision this summer.

An adverse ruling could mean that the EPA might only be able to require the installation of piecemeal emissions-reducing technologies at power plants and bar the agency from implementing the broad, economywide regulations that are needed to avoid climate disaster. Indeed, entirely new legislation might be required to give the EPA more explicit authority to secure a livable future. Even if this threat to the agency’s authority is ultimately defeated, the better part of a year will be lost in court proceedings.

The court’s action heightens the importance of using nonregulatory tools which Congress can include in the reconciliation bill. One such tool is HR 2307: The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. HR 2307 would charge fossil fuel companies a fee based on the carbon content of their products and return the collected revenue equally to legal residents through monthly dividend checks. HR 2307 would drastically reduce greenhouse gases economywide, while protecting low- and middle-income households from consumer price increases.

It currently is cosponsored by 86 Democrats, including Reps. Jackie Speier, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Jared Huffman, Eric Swalwell, Mark DeSaulnier, Pramila Jayapal and Jamie Raskin.

Alan Mattlage

San Mateo

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(5) comments

Terence Y

Mr. Mattlage – everyone knows that any fees on greenhouse gas emissions will not be paid for by fossil fuel companies. These companies will, as they always do, pass on those fees to consumers. Instead, maybe you can weigh in on the amount of carbon emissions due to those 30,000+ people flying into Scotland for COP26 - an estimated 400 aircraft and over 50 private jets. I don’t believe any of those aircraft were solar powered ones. But hey, I guess those one percenters can afford to pay those pollution credits. I’m sure we can plant some more trees somewhere, although the Gobi desert doesn’t come to mind. BTW, chances are that if something is co-sponsored by so many Dems, money is coming out of your pocket.

AlanM

Terence, you are conveniently ignoring the monthly dividend that all legal residents will receive. HR2307 will raise consumer prices on carbon intensive (polluting) products, but those increases will be made affordable to more than 80% of our population, because returning the revenue from the fee in monthly dividends to legal residents will more than make up for consumer price increases. This is especially true for working class families, 96% of whom will see a net increase in their bank accounts. Imagine paying a special tax on your groceries and then when you exit the store, you get all that money back and more. That's what happens for more than 80% of us, because our carbon footprint is no where near the carbon footprint of the 1%. And I'd be happy to weigh in on emissions from air travel. In 2019, more than 39,000,000 airline flights took place globally. So the 450 flights taken to annual COP meetings contribute an insignificant amount of the world's air travel emissions (0.001% of annual air travel). Pointing to emissions from air travel to the COP26 is a distraction (and for some writers a calculated distraction) from the real issue of the need to reduce emissions from air travel. If the COP meetings are able to strengthen the world's commitment to reducing greenhouse gases even a little, then its air travel footprint is meaningless. A price on carbon would help reduce all air travel emissions.

Terence Y

Mr. Mattlage, I’m not ignoring the alleged “monthly dividend” I just didn’t want to rehash it, but since the door is opened… Note that we’ve done this dance before. In a previous conversation, you provided a link to a working paper. After reviewing the paper, the following conclusion stands out (and what many have already surmised) – the carbon fee is an income redistribution scheme. Income being redistributed is coming from a variety of cohorts: older adult households; people ages 50 and above; white folks and to a lesser degree, Asians. Also, as surmised, lower income households will benefit, although their tax burden is still increased due to additional costs. Medium and higher income folks will also see increased costs along with their existing tax burdens. Bottom line – increased costs for everyone and income redistribution from a variety of sources, not all of who can afford it.

As always we’re still not addressing China and India’s contributions, along with other growing economies, such as Africa, who will build fossil fuel burning plants to meet their energy needs.

And your take on people contributing loads of carbon to attend a greenhouse gas reduction conference is that it’s insignificant and a distraction? Well, if everyone took the same approach – our personal contribution is insignificant (and it is quite insignificant compared to those 450 flights) then we’ll just go ahead and continue on our merry little way, with no redistribution scheme required. After all, if these so-called leaders don’t set a good example, why should we listen to them? Trying to downplay a good for thee but not for me attitude won’t get anyone very far. Hypocrisy is never a good look.

AlanM

The Carbon Dividend act is not "an income redistribution scheme." It simply applies the principle that polluters should pay for the damage they do to us. Any change in people's financial fortunes are entirely incidental to their carbon footprint. As rich people have much larger carbon footprints than the rest of us, it's natural that low- and middle-income people will benefit, but they benefit not because of their economic class, but because of their relatively lower carbon footprint and consequently they are doing relatively less harm.

Terence Y

Mr. Mattlage – “rich” people are paying for their carbon footprint, just as everyone else does, through their consumption. If they use more, they pay more, as everyone else does. Now what do you get when you take those consumption fees and return more “benefits” to those who use less? A textbook definition of redistribution is what you get. Now if you returned “benefits” proportional to their consumption, then you can make the case there’s no redistribution. But why raise prices when you don’t need to, if the net cost is the same. Unless the government is trying to take advantage of the “float” from these interest-free loans (er, tax).

We can continue to dicker about US emissions, but why are folks trying to push this redistribution scheme ignoring the herd of elephants in the room – China, India, and other growing economies, such as Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa. What are their increases in carbon emissions compared to the US in the last decade? Or the last 20 years? I’m betting their emission increases are considerable and easily dwarf US emissions, assuming we've had an increase. Until we get those countries on board (and good luck with that), I’m thinking there are folks that will reap big bucks if this redistribution scheme succeeds. Maybe some investigation into the money behind this Carbon Act legislation, or the money going to legislators… we may be able to see who thinks they’ll benefit.

Meanwhile, we have another reported 10 Assembly Democrats getting ready to fly over to Scotland. No word on whether it’s a chartered plane. Let’s not forget Democrat LA Mayor Garcetti already over there. Another group of 10 lawmakers that recently flew to Portugal for another “green” thing. Now some of these folks may be bipartisan, but for those folks who don’t agree with this purported global warming thing, they get a free pass from accusations of hypocrisy.

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