A cap-and-dividend policy can be a factor in reducing greenhouse gases while putting money in Mainers’ pockets. Carbon emission producers would pay a tax on those emissions. The tax in a cap-and-dividend policy would be given back to the people in the form of a check.

Alaska does something similar with its oil proceeds. Instead of the oil revenue getting put into the general fund for politicians to spend, the oil money is given directly to the people.

The economy is bolstered when residents spend these dividends. This also has an effect on income inequality and poverty, since everyone gets the same amount.

Here’s how the incentive to reduce greenhouse gases works: Companies that produce these pollutants pay for privilege of doing so. The chain reaction of raising prices on their products to compensate for the tax will have an effect on the people who use them.

If you use a lot of these companies’ goods, you will pay more. If you use fewer, you pay less. And everyone gets the same check back. If you drive a Hummer, you pay more for fuel than will a Prius driver.

Companies are incentivized to produce more-efficient products. Consumers are incentivized to conserve. And everyone gets a check.

There has been a cap-and-dividend bill in Congress since 2009; it has bounced around various committees. It’s time to get this to the floor for a vote.

We can’t wait for the feds to do this. In Maine, we need to establish a cap-and-dividend policy, which helps save the planet and puts money in our pockets. Call your representative and tell him to do so.

Gil Harris

co-chair, Maine Green Independent Party