Dear Delegate Plum:
I commend your attention to the topic of climate change, addressing it with urgent warnings as you did in your past two commentaries shared with newsletter subscribers and Connection newspaper readers. Any reader would agree with you that the politics of the issue present the greatest challenge. We can hope that the United States is moving closer to joining the rest of the world in seeing the climate as a non-partisan challenge that our elected officials must work on together to address for all our sakes.
Thanks for including pricing carbon in your state-level climate to-do list, and here's why I agree with you that it's important. It will drive all the other necessary actions and generate buy-in from every household, which is the level of engagement we need to be successful.
As you have previously endorsed, the carbon fee and dividend proposal of Citizens’ Climate Lobby frames the pricing as a revenue neutral fee, not a tax. As demonstrated by our northern neighbors, successful introduction in British Columbia is now set to expand to all of Canada. Washington State has on the ballot this November an initiative that would put a steadily rising fee on carbon pollution emitters. Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg are in support, with Gates writing in an open letter, “You may be skeptical about this idea. I know I was. How can one state make a difference on a global problem like climate change? But I overcame my doubts.”
The signal, that pollution costs must be paid up front, will spur investment in the new energy economy both at the household and business scale. And while we might debate how much good can one state do, it also might be asked how much harm? That Virginians, as ratepayers beholden to Dominion Energy, will sink upwards of $2 billion in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is unconscionable. All efforts at “greening” Virginia by enacting the other items on your climate to-do list cannot make up for this pipeline tragedy. The combined ACP and MVP fracked gas pipelines will generate greenhouse gas emissions estimated equivalent to that produced by 45-coal-fired power plants.
So it will take courage to act, to act without short-term gain, and against long-strategized opposition. You know what’s at stake.