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Bill Blancato: Pricing carbon for a positive change

Bill Blancato: Pricing carbon for a positive change

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More than 200 mayors from around the country recently attended that 87th annual meeting of the United States conference of mayors. This bipartisan group adopted several resolutions addressing climate change including a solution favored by thousands of economists — carbon pricing.

“Be it resolved that the United States Conference of Mayors strongly urges the United States Congress to pass legislation that imposes a price on carbon emissions,” the resolution stated. A price on carbon would offer our city and our country a wide range of benefits and will “promote energy efficiency and accelerate clean energy investments,” ... “spur innovation and reduce reliance on foreign energy sources.” Last but not least, it will “encourage and empower households and businesses to invest in conservation and domestic carbon-free energy sources.”

Not only would a price on carbon bring these positive changes to our communities in North Carolina, but it would also help prevent communities across the country from suffering future harm. Mayors are on the front lines of dealing with climate change. When a historic drought hits or a record-breaking flood comes, people in their cities want answers and action. Right here in the Triad we have seen flooding from heavy storms and it is our municipal governments that are the first to respond. If the U.S. Congress puts a price on carbon pollution as the Conference of Mayors recommends, our emissions will go down, our air will be cleaner and our climate will begin to stabilize.

Adoption of the resolution supporting a price on carbon emissions is especially meaningful because a carbon pricing bill is under consideration in Congress right now. More than 50 members of the House of Representatives are cosponsoring legislation called the Energy Innovation Act (H.R. 763), which would put a price on carbon pollution and give every American a monthly dividend check. A policy like this will reduce carbon emissions while protecting people financially as America transitions to a clean energy economy. With this strong, bipartisan endorsement from our country’s mayors, I hope Rep. Virginia Foxx and Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis will take a close look at this legislation in Congress and support it.

Their support would be welcome from people on both sides of the aisle. A recent poll from Republican pollster Frank Luntz found that 75 percent of Republicans under the age of 40 support putting a price on carbon and that 69 percent of all Republicans think the Republican Party’s position on climate change is hurting the party with younger voters. Many Democratic voters rank climate change as one of their highest priorities. Economists who have served under both Republican and Democratic administration and every former chair of the Federal Reserve agree that a carbon price is an efficient, effective approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Thankfully, agreement is emerging among our elected officials, too. The Energy Innovation Act has bipartisan sponsorship in Congress. Republicans were among those mayors who sponsored the mayors’ carbon pricing resolution, passed it through committee and voted for it.

The non-partisan Conference of Mayors has set a wonderful example for all elected officials by working together, across party lines, on this important issue. Climate change is simply too big a problem to let partisanship get in the way.

Bill Blancato practices law in Winston-Salem and is a regional coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby.


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