In an effort to tackle the enormous problems posed by climate change and rising seas, a bipartisan group of Florida’s congressional representatives are co-sponsoring legislation to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions – and 100 percent of the revenues would go to the American public.
Democrats Ted Deutch from Boca Raton and Charlie Crist from St. Petersburg are teaming up with Naples Republican Francis Rooney and two other members of Congress to co-sponsor the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.
Putting a price on carbon and returning the revenue to the public in one form or another can be an effective way to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, according to a study released earlier this year by researchers at MIT and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
In the U.S., burning fossil fuels like coal, crude oil and natural gas to produce electricity is the largest source of heat-trapping pollution, producing about two billion tons of carbon dioxide every year, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The legislation aims to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. by 40 percent over the next decade, and 90 percent by 2050. That would be achieved by charging $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent produced and increasing the price by $10 every year.
“This aggressive carbon pricing scheme introduced by members from both parties marks an opportunity to begin to seriously address the immediate threat of climate change,” Deutch said on a conference call with reporters. “The status quo is unsustainable. The time to act is right now.”
A variety of groups including the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund, Citizens Climate Lobby and the National Wildlife Federation are backing the bill.
Deutch, Crist and Rooney are all members of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, which lost nearly half of its GOP members – including South Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo – in this month’s midterm election. Curbelo created the caucus with Deutch in early 2016 to “explore policy options that address the impacts, causes and challenges of our changing climate.”