Citizen's View: Federal legislation holds hope of steering U.S. toward net zero carbon emissions
The intense smoke from the western wildfires in Oregon last September caused extensive damage to lives and property in much of the state. This year a large portion of Oregon is in a drought with above average spring temperatures that have us bracing for another awful fire season this summer. Scientists tell us human-caused climate change — resulting from burning coal, oil and natural gas (fossil fuels) — makes fire seasons worse.
To reduce the threat of climate change, they advise us that we have to reduce global carbon emissions caused by burning fossil fuels globally by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Right now, there's a bill in Congress that aims to do this. It's called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (HR 2307). It puts a fee on oil, coal and natural gas pollution at the source and returns the money to all Americans in monthly dividend checks to spend as they see fit. Around 60% of Americans, mostly low and middle-income groups, would come out ahead financially from the dividend.
Fifty nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives are co-sponsoring HR 2307, with more members of Congress signing up to support this bill. The non-partisan grassroots advocacy group Citizen's Climate Lobby is leading the efforts to urge Congress to pass the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.
Over the past year, 32 Oregon state legislators endorsed HR 2307, including House Speaker Tina Kotek, House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner and President Pro Tempore of the Senate, James Manning Jr.
On Feb. 4, Sen. Michael Dembrow introduced Senate Joint Memorial 5 (SJM 5), urging Congress to enact bipartisan climate legislation, specifically HR 2307. This resolution passed the Oregon Senate on April 7 by a vote of 23 to 5, with six Republican senators joining the Democratic majority. SJM 5 is stalled in the House Rules Committee due to the high volume of bills under consideration.
SJM 5 has 36 legislative co-sponsors, including six Republicans: Sen. Bill Kennemer and Reps. Christine Drazan, David Brock Smith, Gary Leif, Ron Noble and Suzanne Weber.
Thirty Democrats co-sponsored SJM 5: Sen. Jeff Golden, Lew Frederick, Sara Gelser, Chris Gorsek, Floyd Prozanski, Chuck Riley, & Kathleen Taylor and Representatives Alonso Leon, Wlnsey Campos, Brian Clem, Maxine Dexter, Paul Evans, Dacia Grayber, Paul Holvey, Zach Hudson, John Lively, Susan McLain, Courtney Neron, Rob Nosse, Rachel Prusak, Jeff Reardon, Lisa Reynolds, Ricki Ruiz, Andrea Salinas, Tawna Sanchez Sherri Scouten, Janeen Sollman, Andrea Valderama, and Marty Wilde.
Oregon Citizens' Climate Lobby volunteers applaud each of these legislators for co-sponsoring SJM 5 to support a national bipartisan approach for climate action.
Unfortunately, 2019 and 2020 Oregon legislative sessions ended with Republican walkouts to deny legislative votes on state level cap and invest bills. These legislators listed above are making a bold statement that a federal market-based carbon pricing bill is a way forward for Oregon and the U.S. to reduce the threat of climate change.
We hope our Oregon Congressional delegation, Reps. Cliff Bentz, Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader, and Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, will see this message and support HR 2307.
Brian Ettling lives in Northeast Portland (Wilkes nieghborhood), volunteers with Citizens' Climate Lobby and is lead organizer for Senate Joint Memorial 5.
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