Deirdre Henderson: Lake Tahoe needs national carbon pricing, not just lake-specific appropriations

In their Aug. 13 op-ed, Darcie Collins, Joanne S. Marchetta and Steve Teshara express gratitude to public officials for the increased Lake Tahoe-specific appropriations passed by the House of Representatives under the 2016 Lake Tahoe Restoration Act. Indeed, we should all be grateful for Congressional efforts to protect Lake Tahoe, a national environmental treasure and the source of so much economic, cultural and ecological sustenance for so many of us.

However, these appropriations will not save Tahoe in the absence of big, bold policy action by Congress on climate change, the existential threat to the Tahoe Basin, our nation and world. On Aug. 9, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of eminent climate scientists from around the world, issued its latest report on climate change, and the news is dire. Climate disruption is happening at an even faster pace than climate scientists had previously predicted.

We know, from work by a wide swath of climate scientists and economists, that one of the most effective first steps we can take to reduce the carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels that is warming the planet and disrupting our climate is to put a price on carbon.

Though we don’t hear about it much in the media, discussions in Congressional committees and between members of Congress on climate action are actively taking place right now. The budget reconciliation bill that Congress is currently working on is the best opportunity we have had in years to adopt meaningful climate policy with a national carbon price.

This policy, especially if paired with a carbon dividend (or carbon cash back) for American households and a carbon border adjustment to create a level playing field for American businesses, will not only reduce carbon emissions dramatically by 2030 and push us toward carbon net zero by 2050, it can create jobs, protect the large majority of Americans from the economic effects of the transition to a low-carbon economy, and save thousands of lives and economic costs from the negative health effects of carbon pollution.

To protect the Tahoe Basin’s exquisite environment, economy and rich culture, I urge Senators Feinstein and Padilla and Representative McClintock to go big on climate in the reconciliation bill by putting a price on carbon.

And I urge my fellow citizens to call and email these members of Congress to ask for this. (Do it easily at and Politicians don’t create political will, they respond to it. It’s up to us to tell them what we want.

Deirdre Henderson is with the North Tahoe Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby

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