In the last two years, the biggest extreme weather events cost American families and businesses $188 billion. As we pump more and more greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere, these disasters are only going to become more common.
We must do something now to take action. And, thanks to a bill that was introduced today, United States Senators have the opportunity to take action: They must pass the Climate Protection Act and the Sustainable Energy Act.
Taken together, the Climate Protection Act and Sustainable Energy Act are a comprehensive climate bill, led by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Most important, the package puts a price on carbon, which will make polluters pay for the damage they inflict on all of us while encouraging the transition to cleaner fuels. This $20 fee for each ton of carbon dioxide pollution will reduce emissions to 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
These bills also bring in more than $1 trillion in new revenue over the next decade. The success of any pollution reduction program depends on how new revenue is spent, and these bills spend the money smartly. Broadly speaking, the money goes to three places: consumer protection, clean energy infrastructure, and deficit reduction. Each of these is important.
A carbon fee is just like any other consumption tax in that it inordinately impacts low- and middle-income families. The Climate Protection Act and Sustainable Energy Act create a rebate program to make sure that these families are not harmed. This is modeled after Alaska’s oil dividend, and will ensure that pollution reduction is not a regressive tax.