BATH — While the Green New Deal has attracted plenty of press nationally for its sweeping, controversial approaches to combating climate change, local activists are working to build support of a different policy: a national carbon fee and dividend program.

The policy is being promoted by Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a national organization with grassroots chapters all over the country, including eight in Maine. Citizens’ Climate Lobby is pushing Congress to pass a carbon fee program that its supporters say would drastically reduce carbon emissions in the United States.

In order to build pressure to force Congress to act on the legislation, local chapters are asking municipalities to endorse the policy, showing strong local support for it. The hope is that as more cities and towns endorse the plan, members of Congress will be pressured to vote for the legislation. So far, a small but growing number of municipalities have expressed support for the proposal. Elected officials in Portland, Bangor, Brunswick, Harpswell, Fairfield and Vinalhaven have all endorsed a national carbon fee and dividend system as outlined by Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

The Bath-Brunswick chapter of the group has had some success in convincing Midcoast towns to sign on in the last several months. The Brunswick Town Council adopted a resolution endorsing the carbon fee and dividend policy in June of 2018. Then in December, Harpswell selectmen backed the proposal.

Paul Perkins, a member of the group, said the chapter plans to continue lobbying local governments and is currently working to solicit endorsements from West Bath, Bath, and Arrowsic.

“We’re only a small group, so we’re targeting the Midcoast area,” said “Really, we’re only targeting areas where we have some connection.”


The legislation would put a fee on fossil fuels, imposing a cost for companies using those fuels and producing an incentive for consumers to switch to green technology and energy sources. The fees would be redistributed to people as a monthly dividend. Citizens’ Climate Lobby said claimed its legislation would reduce the United States’ emissions by at least 40 percent in the first 12 years.

While the legislation could take a significant dent out of the United States’ emissions, most emissions are from outside of the country. The legislation attempts to address this by imposing tariffs on products from countries that haven’t addressed carbon emissions similarly.

Perkins said that he had met with multiple city councilors in Bath about the initiative, but so far none have taken the issue up at a city council meeting. At the February city council meeting, Perkins gave a brief five-minute presentation on the legislation and his concerns over climate change, imploring the city council to endorse the national carbon fee and dividend legislation.

“Nobody seemed to say, ‘Hey, I’ll take this on as an agenda item,’” said Perkins.

While one town won’t make or break the movement, said Perkins, if enough Maine communities endorsed the legislation, it could sway lawmakers from Maine to vote for the legislation eventually.

“It’s a collection of towns coming together that makes the difference,” he said.


Perkins will be giving two talks about climate change and the Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s proposal in the comings days and weeks. On Thursday, Perkins will be giving a presentation at 6 p.m. at Bath City Hall at the behest of Indivisible Sagadahoc, a local grassroots organization. On March 19, the Arrowsic Conservation Commission will host Perkins for a similar talk in Arrowsic. That presentation will take place at 6 p.m. at the town hall.

“Mainers are particularly aware of the effects of global warming as the Gulf of Maine’s warming will gradually destroy our local lobstering and the sea level’s rising will flood downtown Bath,” said Jessica Mahnke, one of the organizers behind Indivisible Sagadahoc.

A recent report put out by the First Street Foundation stated that Bath had already lost $4.1 in unrealized home values due to sea level rise.

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