Last fall, Sen. Susan Collins publicized a Government Accountability Office report about the financial risk the country faces if it does not address climate change. If we do nothing, annual recovery costs from climate change-related events could exceed $6 trillion in 20 years.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated recovery costs from 2017’s extreme weather events at a record $306 billion. That’s our tax money! That total includes recovery from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, wildfires in California and 12 other climate-related events, each costing over $1 billion.

Burning coal, oil and natural gas is responsible for the 45 percent increase in emissions of carbon dioxide, the major climate-changing gas in our atmosphere, between 1990 and 2010. That increase is causing not only the global warming of oceans, but also “global weirding,” a term encompassing the recent cold snap reaching to Florida, our Halloween storm and other unusual weather events.

Fortunately, the 34 Democrats and 34 Republicans in the House Climate Solutions Caucus are working to address climate change. A favored solution puts a steadily rising price on carbon fuels. Raising the price of such fuels will level the playing field for clean energy generation. And, that’s where Maine has a significant advantage over the rest of the country. Our electricity generation is 63 percent renewables (hydro, biomass and wind) while the U.S. as a whole depends on carbon fuels for 65 percent of its power.

A program called carbon fee and dividend, which imposes a fee on carbon fuels at their source, while returning 100 percent net revenue to households as a dividend, would level the playing field of electricity prices to benefit Maine. The plan won’t increase government revenue or add to Environmental Protection Agency regulations, but will create millions of jobs. And our air will be cleaner.

This is surely an economic solution that Rep. Bruce Poliquin could support.

Peter Garrett


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