In the December 29 opinion section are two unsigned letters, one titled “With ban on offshore drilling, Obama takes away jobs from American families,” the other titled, “New anti-coal regulations [are] an insult to Americans.” Quoted in the letters are Nick Loris and John Malcolm of the right-wing Heritage Foundation and Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Both letters need clarification and correction.
Extracting and burning oil, gas, and coal produces carbon dioxide and methane, which increase the earth’s temperature. Ninety-nine percent of climate scientists agree that this is the primary cause of global warming, the consequences of which include catastrophic drought, sea-level rise, flooding, and more.
The letters’ authors seem to think that the only way to create jobs is to pretend that climate change doesn’t exist and move backwards to a dirtier, more-polluted era; they fail to realize that when we talk about creating more jobs, renewable energy is the way to go.
According to the volunteer organization, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, implementation of their “Carbon Fee and Dividend” proposal at the national level (and it has bipartisan support) will create jobs, grow the economy, and result in a cleaner and more livable planet. The proposal places a steadily-rising fee on the carbon content of fossil fuels, levied at the pump, mine, or port of entry. All of the revenues raised, except for small administrative costs, will be returned on an equal basis to American families: not one penny will support government operations.
This plan will encourage renewable energy, including solar and wind power, and has been subjected to professional economic scrutiny. One analysis, by the well-respected Regional Economic Models, Inc., shows that Carbon Fee and Dividend will create 2.1 million jobs 10 years after implementation and 2.8 million after 20. This is more than a 1% increase in US employment compared to the status quo.
The fossil-fuel industry has been a mainstay of our economy for more than 100 years and has brought many benefits, but by using fossil fuels we are contributing to the destruction of the planet. We must transition away from these fuels as soon as we can: this will cause both job gains and losses in different industries. Since Carbon Fee and Dividend returns all revenues raised to all American families on an equal basis, employment and the economy are supported. The economic effect of the dividend is so strong that the previously-mentioned REMI study projects that, under Carbon Fee and Dividend, employment will remain stable in the US Census region which includes Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, home of the American oil and gas industries.
We are more than 7 billion people living on this planet; if we continue to do business as usual, life as we know it will be gone. But by pricing carbon and returning the revenues to American families, we can move towards a cleaner, safer, more prosperous future.