A post-pandemic federal stimulus package (“Report links Maine’s economic recovery, clean energy,” by Tux Turkel, Nov. 10, Page A1) could be just the ticket for the other crisis upon us, namely climate change. That’s if the funds go toward quickly cutting CO2 emissions. That’s what must happen.

The Maine Climate Council’s Climate Action Plan proposes something like that – electrified transportation, together with weatherization and heat pumps for buildings. Solar and offshore wind (“Our View: Generating jobs, not just electricity,” Nov. 15, Page D2) lead the way for electricity generation. All the above would create jobs, many in new industries building Maine’s economy.

But what if, instead of continuing tax breaks for coal, oil and gas industries, we priced them out of the energy market with a steadily rising pollution tax? We’d be cutting the trillion pounds of U.S. pollution per month from burning all that fossil fuel.

Such a scheme has been proposed, by Reagan-era Republicans George Shultz and James Baker, and approved by 3,500 U.S. economists including all former Federal Reserve chairs. It’s called “national carbon fee and dividend,” or, more colloquially, “cashback carbon pricing,” because all of us receive an equal cashback share of that dividend – a monthly climate security check.

You choose what you do with that cash: weatherize your home, or sign on to a solar farm share, or buy an electric vehicle. Industries will innovate in energy generation, manufacturing and transportation to keep competitive. Calculations show that we’d all be better off with cleaner air, and freedom to choose – and lower CO2, without which our efforts are for nought.

Peter Garrett
Winslow


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