Bruce Poliquin, candidate for the 2nd District Republican congressional nomination, was right when he declared, in his Dec. 8 op-ed, that “an important part of our Maine brand is a clean and healthy environment” and that we should all be talking about “how the changing climate is affecting our planet.”

But I am confused by Poliquin’s mischaracterization of a fee on methane emissions from oil extraction, now under consideration by Congress. The fee would not be levied on natural gas used for heating, cooking, electricity and other purposes, as Poliquin contends, and, therefore, will not lead to spikes in home heating costs and electricity rates, as he warns. The fee is levied on the discharge of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, only when oil is extracted, and is designed to force producers to contain the gas that escapes via leaks, venting and flaring or when methane is deliberately burned off.

That said, Poliquin is rightly concerned with policies that address climate change but don’t protect consumer interests. Given this, he should be comforted by a proposal now under consideration to put a price on CO2 emissions.

Carbon fee and dividend would charge the fossil fuel producers for every ton of CO2 extracted and return the money raised to every American, and thereby protect low- and middle-income consumers from energy marketplace swings. A strong, economy-wide price on CO2 could reduce America’s emissions by 50 percent by 2030, and attain net zero by 2050.

Now there’s a plan to preserve Maine’s brand as a clean and healthy environment.

Harry Brown
South Portland

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