Several years ago, former Secretary of State George Shultz drafted a proposal for a 100 percent revenue-neutral carbon fee to be placed on fossil fuels at ports of entry, mines, etc. Revenue from the fees would be returned 100 percent to households, and Citizens Climate Lobby has been lobbying Congress hard to enact legislation to accomplish this.

It won’t happen, said many, because Big Oil will lobby against such a fee. But St. Francis said, “Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

A huge number of economists, scientists and environmentalists have long believed that a price on carbon is necessary. Now it seems possible: In early June, six large European gas and oil companies called for a tax on carbon emissions, saying that they believe something must be done.

Impossible in the United States? Consider this statement by Sen. Angus King:

“It is clear to me that … we need to act collectively … a fee on carbon may be an effective and equitable way to accomplish this goal. Despite the great individual regional success [of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative] I believe there is an important role to be had for a national carbon reduction initiative. …The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan is a great first step, but it only regulates carbon from one sector, electricity generation.”

What was once deemed impossible now appears very possible, so members of Maine’s several Citizens Climate Lobby chapters are lobbying with renewed vigor to publicize the movement to price carbon. As Bill McKibben, environmentalist and author, says, no other industry except fossil fuel-based “gets to dump its garbage for free.”

Fern Stearns


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