9:00 AM EDT, June 17, 2014
I agree with Ned Tillman's commentary ("Reducing carbon emissions has practical benefits," June 12) touting the health and economic virtues of replacing coal-fired power with non-fossil sources, which is one likely outcome of the new EPA rules announced this month.
But the possibilities are even better if Congress will wake up to their responsibility to help meet the challenge of lowering greenhouse gas emissions. According to a study just released by Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI), a market-friendly revenue-neutral fee on carbon would not only reduce global warming emissions quite dramatically, but it would actually create net jobs and economic growth across the nation.
How is this possible? And what is "revenue-neutral?"
Government does not keep a penny of the proceeds collected from fossil fuel suppliers as a carbon dumping fee. All of the money is returned to the public through monthly dividend checks. This pumps money right back into the economy, and the REMI study shows that it will actually create over 2 million jobs in 10 years while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent. Not only that but the ancillary health benefits would save over 200,000 American lives. And all this can be achieved without complex, contentious, intrusive regulations because it allows the market to do the work. Inventors, entrepreneurs and investors will seek out the best ways to minimize the burden of the carbon fee. Government will not pick winners and losers.
But this requires political courage from lawmakers who, even when they understand the value of a policy, quake at the thought of being accused of raising taxes by their opponents. Cynical pundits laugh at the prospect of actually passing such a rational bill into law.
But pundits do not create political will nor do the politicians. Only citizens can do that. So it is up to all of us (you and me) to demand action from our elected officials — not just President Barack Obama but those other 535 souls who populate the U.S. Congress. They have to power to make or break our future and that of our children. Make them do the right thing!
Rick Knight, Brookfield Ill.-
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