On July 17, in an impassioned speech before the Senate, Maine’s Angus King called on his fellow lawmakers to fulfill their responsibility to leave future generations free from debt – both financial, in terms of the nation’s deficit, and environmental, as in the carbon debt accrued from our use of fossil fuels, which brings with it a threat to our climate and our very lives that depend on it.

A growing number of bills before Congress aim to tackle climate change by putting a price on fossil fuels to limit their use and transition to alternative energy. At the same time congressional opposition to carbon pricing is waning, as Rep. Steve Scalise’s anti-carbon tax resolution, introduced in every session since 2013, has dwindled in support from 155 co-sponsors to 24 in the current session.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (HR 763), currently with 59 co-sponsors, would charge a steadily rising fee on fossil fuels and return the money collected to households in equal shares to cushion increases in energy costs. The bill would send a clear signal that the nation has elected to transition to renewable energy, and ensure that businesses and manufacturers that minimize their energy use and transition to alternative energy will be more competitive.

In addition to HR 763, at least four other carbon-pricing bills have been introduced. Hearings on these bills would give us an opportunity to examine which would be the most effective in slowing down climate change.

Sen. King recently joined efforts to reduce energy use by introducing, with Sens. Tina Smith and Jeff Merkley, the American Energy Efficiency Act. His endorsement of a Senate version of a strong carbon-pricing bill such as HR 763 would complement the Energy Efficiency Act and bring us closer to reining in our unsustainable use of fossil fuels and curbing climate change.

Philippa Solomon


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