Want a Green Revolution? Build it from the Center and Work Outward - FAST
Pathways to a Sustainable and Bipartisan “Green New Deal”
The Bipartisan Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act Reduces Carbon Pollution and Income Inequality and could form the foundation of a real and profound shift toward a cooler planet and a more democratic economy.
In every small cafe, bistro and coffee shop here in the shadow of Rattlesnake Ridge there is growing buzz about the “Green New Deal”. Mostly, on both ends of the political spectrum, it’s a knee jerk reaction on one side or the other based on ideology. Most folks, though, are just puzzled by it because they can’t seem to put their arms around what exactly it is, and with good reason, even the sponsors don’t really know.
Some present it as an effort to save the planet, but let’s be real. Mother earth doesn’t need to be saved. . . we do; along with more than a million species who share this planet with us.
Whether we reverse climate change or not, the earth will continue to spin and, until the day our Sun either explodes or simply engulfs the planets, it will continue to spin. Oceans will rise, currents will change directions or shift, catastrophic geologic and atmospheric events will increase, at some point the planet will be plunged into another ice age even, as the effects of warming will, in the geologic cycle of change, be followed by a cooling event. But the earth will go on. The question is: will Homo Sapiens?
Further, the recent alarming UN Report on extinction suggests that we are on the verge of an extinction event for more than one million other species who share the planet with us.
Most experts agree that - at best - we have two decades before the effects of climate change will be irreversible, many insist that 10 years, perhaps fifteen if we are fortunate, is a more accurate number.
We don’t have time to engage in a pitched partisan battle of the extremes, that will only drag this out and in the end the bitter divisions that today cause us to fear for our Republic will become the divisions that threaten the human race.
The good news is that we can have a Green Revolution built from the center out where people of good-will, Democrats, Republicans, Independents and non-voters alike join together to act and act fast.
The even better news is that this provides an opportunity for Americans to rally around a cause and perhaps find a way beyond the poisonous partisanship that has infected our country.
In actuality “The Green New Deal” is more a set of goals or a Call to Action on the most serious existential threat that humanity has ever faced. How we achieve those goals - even what they are - is completely up to us.
First and foremost, we must be willing to speak with one another and, more important, to listen to one another. Last month one prominent Democrat dismissed out of hand a set of proposals by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) focusing mostly on Research and Development, despite the fact that it had some very good ideas incorporated into it. More important, Alexander acknowledged the fact of Climate Change and put forward constructive ideas for addressing the problem. If that Democratic Congresswoman had simply welcomed the contributions of Alexander and brought him into the tent, we would now be one vote closer to a tipping point. She, alas, was more interested in partisan political advantage than the crisis at hand.
Make no mistake about it, those who use this crisis to gain partisan political advantage are as guilty as those who deny Climate Change. . . perhaps more because they are cynically exploiting the good will of those who want to solve this problem while inserting a poison pill into the process.
I would have much preferred a different name. “A Green Moon Shot” or something less divisive than a reference to the New Deal, but I’m late to the party when it comes to positioning statements on Climate Change. That horse has already left the barn.
The bottom line is that we need action. The vast majority of our citizens know that we are facing a crisis. They want action.
What we need is to face this challenge as our parents and grandparents faced Hitler. Without regard to political advantage and partisan bickering.
No one checked political party status when the Greatest Generation stepped forward to save Democracy. No ideology was protected from the mortars and machine guns trained at Omaha Beach; No soldier was spared on the Bataan Death March in the Philippines because he was in the “right” political party. The Climate Crisis is a threat to all humanity. Those who seek to use it for partisan advantage, irrespective of what side they are on, will receive - and deserve - the scorn and condemnation heaped upon them by future generations; if we are lucky enough to have future generations.
The good news is that most of us believe there is still time, though precious little. Furthermore there is a path to get there with equal parts market-based practices and activist government, something for everyone to love . . . and perhaps hate. There is even a social-justice component built right into that path. Without the need for so ham-handedly inserting it into the process as the “authors” of the Green New Deal propose. Yet there is room for both progressives and conservatives aboard this high speed train. It’s not the only path but it’s one with real promise. Right now time is of the essence.
It begins with HR 763 The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act. The idea was first proposed by two Republican statesmen George Schultz and James Baker. In 2018, a bill with many similarities to the Baker/Schultz plan called “The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act” became the first bipartisan carbon fee and dividend bill to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. When it was introduced in the Senate three weeks later, it became the first bipartisan carbon fee and dividend bill to be active in both houses of the U.S. Congress. With a new Congress just seated in January, it was reintroduced in the House of Representatives on January 24, as H.R. 763. and is sponsored by a bi-partisan group of US Representatives including Ted Deutch (D-FL-22) and Francis Rooney (R-FL-19) and more than 20 others in both parties - most recently Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA-28).
HR 763 The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act has four major components:
The Carbon Fee: The core of the bill assesses a fee on carbon-emitting fuels, like coal, oil or gas, assessed at the mine, the well, or the port of entry.
Because it is assessed upstream, the fee is very simple and cost effective to administer - only a few thousand entities will pay this “tax” - yet it efficiently cov
The Dividend: The revenues from those fees are distributed equally as a monthly dividend to every American household equally. Rich, poor, black, white, latino, Native American, Asian, every adult and child qualifies for the dividend. The average family of four will see a dividend of about $2,000 per year and as the fee rises the benefit will increase.
70% of households will receive a net increase in their annual income. In other words, the increase in prices of fuel and other related products will be LESS than the dividend they receive. Every action they take to proactively reduce their carbon footprint will increase their individual net income, thereby driving conservation and alternative energy production.
For the first time ever, carbon emitting industries will pay for the cost of CO2 pollution and the American people will receive the dividend. This market-based solution will reduce carbon by 40% or more in the first decade; make a sizeable dent in the savage income disparity that has ballooned in the past 50 years, and, drive local innovation and entrepreneurial activity as citizens work to reduce their own carbon footprint, minimizing their dependence on carbon based fuels and increasing their net income.
Border Carbon Adjustment: Finally to assure that US industry is not disadvantaged by this policy an adjustment is applied on both imports and exports that produce CO2 and other related emissions. The adjustment applies ONLY to products from countries that are not assessing a commensurate fee on carbon. The beauty of this adjustment is that it will create a tipping point to bring the rest of the world’s economies along with the leadership of the United States.
The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act is supported by a virtual “Who’s Who” of scientists, economists and activists among them: former Obama Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu; Internationally renowned Oceanographer William Boicourt; Martin Feldstein, Chairman of President Reagan’s Economic Advisory Council; Retired Rear-Admiral David W. Titley, Pennsylvania State University founding director of their Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk. He was also NOAA’s chief operating officer from 2012-2013 and the chief oceanographer of the U.S. Navy, in which he served for 32 years; Professor Emeritus Barbara Love, a Professor Emeritus of Social Justice Education at UMass-Amherst; Dr. Shi-Ling Hsu the D’Alemberte Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Environmental Programs at the Florida State University College of Law; Actors Bradley Whitford and Don Cheadle; Oceanographer, Explorer, Author and Lecturer; National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence Dr. Sylvia A. Earle; Dr. James Hansen, formerly Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where he directs a program in Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions.
The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act also has high level buy in from both oil, gas and other carbon-based industries and Environmental Organizations.
With this as the basis for agreement we can then build a sustainable future that looks to private individuals, entrepreneurs, and the private sector to push changes from the grassroots and look to government for the big research and development and infrastructure changes that only government can make happen.
From the grassroots will develop shoots.
To borrow a phrase from George H.W. Bush, we will create the opportunity for a hundred thousand points of sustainable light and energy to push up, lowering individual carbon footprints, innovating to create new ideas for clean energy generation on a local level while the power and resources of carefully targeted investments through government research and development creates a smart grid for the distribution of energy; finds more effective ways of energy storage that permit a safer, more secure, and sustainable, distributed energy paradigm to replace the existing vulnerable grid and inefficient storage and production of power.
Now, let’s face it. There are some folks who will still deny Climate Change - in Australia they have taken to calling them “Fossil Fools”, an apt moniker that I suggest we adopt - But to succeed, we must find a way for the rest of us to work together.
Those on the left will need to rise above the opportunity to exploit this crisis for partisan gain. After all, it’s easy to be dogmatic about this - Just watch how Donald Trump works his base and do the same thing he does with yours. Please don’t be tempted by this. Think back on how you have felt over the last two years.
To the Republicans we need to say, “come home”. Let your better angels guide you. Remember that the roots of the environmental movement in this country are the legacy of the Republican Party. All will be forgiven if you will join in the effort to save humanity and our fellow critters.
Even if we disagree on almost everything else right now, let this be the one place where we come together, stand together to sing the American song.
Finally, this approach allows us to test, on a national basis, the idea for an American Dividend that includes people at every level in the economic success of the nation. Fifty years of growing income disparity demand a new capitalism that recognizes the role that every American plays in the success of our economy and creates a broad-based system of sharing in those successes.
Can you imagine it? No more talk about reparations that divide us - because we are all due reparations from the indigenous people who were first here to every immigrant who came later, voluntarily or not.
Perhaps, then, we can get on with the business of forming a “more perfect Union.”
The Radical Centrist Podcast: Beyond Carbon Series:
Ep 05 Carbon Dividend Flannery Winchester CCL 2 by The Radical Centrist
Ripples of Hope: The Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative
EP 07 Parei Sandra Jones Peter Adams 4 27 19 by The Radical Centrist
The Energy Innovation Act: https://energyinnovationact.org/
About Wayne D. King: Wayne King is an author, artist, activist and recovering politician. A three term State Senator, 1994 Democratic nominee for Governor, former publisher of Heart of New Hampshire Magazine and CEO of MOP Environmental Solutions Inc., and now host of two new Podcasts - The Radical Centrist (www.theradicalcentrist.us) and NH Secrets, Legends and Lore (www.nhsecrets.blogspot.com). His art is exhibited nationally in galleries and he has published three books of his images and a novel "Sacred Trust" a vicarious, high voltage adventure to stop a private powerline all available on Amazon.com. He lives in the White Mountains where his family has been for ten thousand years or more. His website is: http://bit.ly/WayneDKing . You can support his work at www.Patreon.com/TheRadicalCentrist .