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Bipartisan climate bill is cause for celebration

Merrill Matthews’s opinion (“Climate change tax backfired for progressives, Dec. 19) that the recent protests in France mean that people everywhere will riot in the streets rather than tolerate higher gas taxes is a bit extreme. He also made a glaring factual omission when dismissing the bipartisan carbon fee and dividend bills recently introduced in both the House and Senate. He writes, “members of Congress recently introduced a bipartisan tax on carbon emissions, like Australia’s, that would force fossil fuel-producing companies to pay $15 for each ton of carbon their products emit. The tax would rise by $10 per ton every subsequent year.”

Indeed, this is part of what the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act proposes. This legislation would provide a sensible, gradually increasing economic incentive for us to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and accelerate innovation in energy production and efficiency. Economists say it would be effective: their analyses predict that putting this fee on carbon pollution would reduce our carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 and 90% by 2050.

Matthews says that the proposals will hurt lower income families. But this is not true. An important fact that Matthews neglects to mention is the dividend part of the bill. The bill divides up the money generated by the fee and gives it back as a dividend to every household to compensate people for the higher energy costs they may incur. The bill is designed to apply a progressive, rather than regressive, fee which will benefit low- and middle-income families. 

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act would be a great step in our fight against climate change. Please ask your senators and congressperson to support it. If it passes, I, for one, will be dancing in the streets, not rioting. 

Nadine Wang

Ann Arbor


Climate change tax rebate helps poor

Matthews is right. Poor and working class citizens should protest if they are forced to bear the brunt of the cost of fighting climate change. Especially when they are the least responsible for causing it and the most vulnerable to the impacts.

However, Matthews confuses the issue when he lumps all carbon pricing proposals together. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act which has now been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate, by a bipartisan group of legislators, is very different than the French gas tax because it returns all of the fees collected to the people as a monthly check to spend however they wish.

Under this bill, lower income families will come out ahead because they will get more back in their monthly rebate than they'll pay due to increased energy costs. When we can tackle climate change without making it even harder for those who are already struggling, we will all reap the benefits.

Kevin Curnow

Ann Arbor

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