The retrospective coverage of the life of our 41st U.S. president has reminded us of the fact that the environment used to be a common ground concern of all Americans, regardless of political affiliation.

George H.W. Bush campaigned in 1988 as an “environmental president.” He said, “Those who think we are powerless to do anything about the greenhouse effect are forgetting about the White House effect.”

Bush made passage of the Clean Air Act, which targeted acid rain and smog, a high priority. With great determination he employed a combination of complex science and market based mechanisms to create the cap-and-trade program responsible for reducing the role of dirty coal in our energy supply.

At present, there is another opportunity to employ a bipartisan, market-based mechanism to address the challenge of climate change: a bill called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividends Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This bill was crafted by conservatives and liberals working together and is co-sponsored by three Republicans and three Democrats. It would impose a fee on carbon fuels that would shift the economics of energy toward carbon-free sources and provide a monthly dividend check to every household to cover increased fuel prices.

Of course, the fate of the bill depends on congressional politics, but the role of political will should not be underestimated. Particularly in the House of Representatives, constituent voices are supposed to be listened to and acted upon, so we should all share our goodwill with them.

Now is the time for us to reunite on behalf of the earth’s environment. This is our true common ground, in every sense, and in every tense — past, present and future. Our children’s children will surely agree.

Cynthia Stancioff


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