On Feb. 20, Sen. Susan Collins spoke in Portland about the health and environmental effects of climate change in Maine. She described what she saw when she visited the Arctic, as well as what she has learned from her constituents. Collins also discussed the importance of a bipartisan effort to address carbon emissions.

As Sen. Angus King recently said on the Senate floor, the science showing the risks of climate change is clear and supported by the vast majority of scientists and economists. The problem is finding a solution that both parties can support.

Collins already has shown leadership in this area, with her 2009 cap and dividend bill as well as her more recent bill on super pollutants. I urge Collins to take the lead in the Republican Party again by sponsoring carbon fee and dividend legislation modeled on the proposal by Citizens Climate Lobby (www.citizensclimatelobby.org).

In this plan, carbon would be taxed when it enters the economy (the oil well, mine, etc.) with border adjustments for imports. All of the revenue then would be returned to the American people through monthly dividend payments.

A similar plan in British Columbia has popular support and has been effective both in lowering emissions and in boosting the economy. A 2014 study by Regional Economic Models Inc., found that a carbon fee like the one described above would add millions of jobs to the economy over the next decade, while drastically reducing carbon emissions. The dividend payments would offset increases in fuel costs for consumers, with two-thirds of them coming out ahead.

This policy would be a way for a Republican, like Collins, to find common ground with Democrats on an important issue, while upholding core conservative values.

Caroline Karnes


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