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July 3, 2014

Group champions refundable carbon fee

NORMAN — Three members of the Norman chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby joined with nearly 600 others to meet with congressional offices on Capitol Hill. Traveling to Washington, D.C., were biologists Dr. Kathy Rand and Dr. Ola Fincke and retired meteorologist Joel Olson, of Moore.

The Citizens Climate Lobby carried the message that a refundable carbon fee could provide a solution for moving one step closer to a carbon-reduced future. The group met with 500 congressional offices, according to a press release issued this week.

A study recently released by CCL and conducted by Regional Economic Models Inc. examines the economic impact of a fee on the carbon dioxide content of fossil fuels. Rand said the study indicates that the fee and an accompanying rebate to be issued to households would help stimulate the economy, while encouraging energy conservation.

The proposed fee would start at $10 per ton and increase another $10 per ton each year. Revenue from the fee would be returned to households in equal shares as direct payments. Border adjustments would prevent U.S. companies from avoiding the fee by relocating to foreign soil and also encourage worldwide adoption of a carbon fee, according to the release.

“Staff from each congressional office we visited were very interested in the report,” said Rand, biologist and co-leader of the Norman chapter. “This gives me hope that bipartisan legislation could be passed to address global warming by putting a fee on carbon that is returned to households.”

Under this carbon fee and dividend approach, the study found that recycling revenue back into the economy would add 2.2 million jobs after 10 years. Improvements in air quality would save 13,000 lives a year. Emissions would decline by 33 percent.

“There is a failure in the free market, where the true price of carbon emissions is hidden from consumers,” Fincke said. “These hidden costs include the price of health care from increased rates of asthma and heat-related deaths, as well as the costs of consequences from extreme weather events.”

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