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A carbon fee would help Maryland meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals

The Oct. 5 Sun editorial, “Renewable energy and the Hogan conundrum” (Oct. 5), states that a study done by consultant E3 for the Maryland Commission on Climate Change “suggests adopting that 50 percent RPS legislation is the best, and perhaps only, way Maryland can meet its greenhouse gas benchmark.” This is not entirely accurate. E3’s preliminary modeling shows that 50 percent RPS would take Maryland a long way toward meeting its goal of achieving a 40 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2030, but it does not assert that this is the only, or even the best, way to achieve that goal.

In fact, E3 is modeling another approach for the commission that might achieve the same result, or possibly even a better one. This approach is a carbon fee, starting at $20 per ton of carbon and rising incrementally until it hits the social cost of carbon, around $62, in 2030. Half of the revenues collected would be invested in achieving climate-related objectives such as enhancing clean energy and transportation, making Maryland’s infrastructure more resilient to climate impacts, and assisting fossil-dependent workers and communities transition to a clean economy. The remaining revenues would be rebated to households and employers in a way that protects low-income households from any regressive effects of the fee.

A similar bill, the Regional Carbon Cost Collection Initiative, was introduced in the General Assembly in 2018, and is expected to be reintroduced, with modifications, in 2019. Fifty percent RPS and a carbon fee could work together to help Maryland achieve the ambitious new greenhouse gas goals identified this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Donald M. Goldberg, Chevy Chase

The writer is executive director of the Climate Law & Policy Project

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