Cut Regulations, Engage the Free Market
Ted Halstead is a conservative who thinks that climate change is a real problem. But he doesn’t trust today’s complex web of environmental regulations and incentives for clean energy and conservation to do much to fight climate change.
Instead, Halstead thinks that the only hope of practical success is a simpler approach that will work with the free market. Halstead wants to encourage businesses and families to use less polluting energy sources by helping the marketplace set more accurate prices for energy and the products and services that use energy.
Halstead proposes putting a fee on carbon at the source — such as a coal mine or an oil or gas well — and then returning 100% of the proceeds to the American people in the form of a rebate. Under this plan, an average family of four would get a check for $2,000 initially. Over time, that amount could increase.
If carbon dividends were implemented, 7 out of 10 American families would get more money back as rebates than they spend on carbon fees priced into the products and services they purchase, according to the US Treasury.
See the video below for Halstead’s overview of the carbon dividend proposal and why it’s so promising.
A Solution Even Trump Voters Will Love
Halstead thinks that the United States should be the first country to implement carbon dividends, to help our economy get the most benefit in new jobs in clean energy — along with economic stimulus from carbon rebates to millions of American families.
Given today’s political climate, getting the US on board will require more than a bipartisan solution that both liberals and conservatives can accept. It will require a free-market solution that Republicans can enthusiastically support. As the website of his organization, the Climate Leadership Council, explains:
Traditional political alliances are fraying, especially in the United States, where the future direction of both parties, but particularly the GOP, is in contention. Although the Republican Party has long been hostile to emissions reductions, a carbon dividends plan offers the GOP several strategic advantages. First, dividends should appeal to the party’s base – and Trump’s voters in particular – for the reasons outlined above [dividend payments reduce inequality and the plan appeals to populist sentiments]. For the GOP establishment, corrective taxes are fully consistent with free market principles, and once firmly in place, justify the elimination of a range of existing regulations, including the Clean Power Plan. The policy’s post-partisan appeal stems from the fact that all major factions could claim an important victory.
Halstead’s plan has the support of leading Republicans, including former Secretaries of State George Schultz and James A. Baker III and former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr, as well as economists Martin Feldstein, who served under President Reagan, and N. Gregory Mankiw, who served under President George W. Bush.
My Experience Lobbying Congress for Carbon Dividend
I just came back from Washington, DC lobbying for a version of carbon dividend with 1,000 other members of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. We met with members of Congress from both parties.
On the Republican side, the responses were mixed. Some members of Congress expressed great support for climate action, and one that I met had already signed the Republican Climate Resolution. Now, she’s thinking about joining 21 of her Republican colleagues in the House Climate Solutions Caucus.
Other Republicans I met with showed less interest in climate solutions or awareness of the efforts of their fellow Republicans to find free-market approaches.
Speaking to the CCL’s national conference that preceded the lobby day last week, Halstead assured attendees that a climate dividend plan was gaining momentum. Now, it’s up to citizens to help all members of Congress understand the need for a solution like this one at this time.
To do that, we’ll have to build political will back home in each Congressional district. That means recruiting citizens to local groups, writing letters to the editor and meeting with editorial boards of local newspapers, and finding ways to show the area’s member of Congress that his or her voters care want climate solutions and clean energy and that they also want America to take the lead.
We have lots of work to do. But the good news is that this work could be just what America needs not only to take back our leadership on clean energy, but also, with a civil approach to members of both parties, to heal the partisan divides that plague our politics today.
— Erik Curren, The Solar Patriot