Don Rogers: Climate bill rings a bell

Don Rogers

The pitch is a bit Robin Hoody, granted.

And of course the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, introduced in the U.S. House last week, hasn’t a prayer of passing. Not in this term.

Not with this president, not in the last gasps of this Republican majority.

But there is much to like in the bill and at least a stirring of hope that Congress as a whole may eventually get it with global warming. That the federal government will finally do what must be done.

If so, thank the cool, patient, persistent effort of the Citizens Climate Lobby. Let Resisters gnash and rail, deniers flash their alternative charts and dark conspiracies, zealots impugn not just the intelligence but very soul of anyone who fails to swallow sinker as well as hook.

This decade-old citizens group, which has had a North Tahoe branch for about a year, and the affiliated Climate Solutions Caucus in the House are the Noahs who will keep calmly building something that can float in a troubled sea. The caucus has been adding Democrats and Republicans together in pairs. Two by two, up to 90 members now, from 72 in April. None named LaMalfa or McClintock, yet. But give the lobby time. I have faith.

Meantime, besides showing what bipartisan teamwork can look like, a couple of Republicans joined a couple of Democrats to introduce the legislation that would charge carbon emitters for some of the true costs of this pollution and give the money back to citizens. That’s the gist, though there are plenty of details covering such puzzles as dealing with imports and exports, and doing away with further punitive regulations and fines on polluters.

I say polluters because that’s what we’re talking about, a pernicious form of fossil fuel pollution our best science ties to the greenhouse effect behind warming.

There remain skeptics, some well credentialed, of carbon’s link to climate change. This is how the discipline of science works, nothing ever completely “settled,” though probability proves out along particular paths. This one points strongly now in the direction of doing something about carbon emissions.

Besides, it’s not the scientific community that needs alignment. It’s us, the citizens, the policy wonks, and, sigh, the politicians.

The citizenry might at last be reaching a critical mass on global warming with two-thirds of us recognizing what strikes me as obvious. More people who live along the coasts notice effects from warming today, including Republicans and especially young Republicans.

You can go all histrionic if you like, insult those Others, act up. All of this short of violence is your right, of course. You can exaggerate, too, all too common when science spins off into rhetoric. I’m blessed with a front row seat, helpful for seeing this brand of partisanship for what it is.

You also can take the path of people like Deirdre Henderson, who nods to show she’s listening carefully, and smiles enough to let you know you’re not in fact evil incarnate for holding a “wrong” viewpoint. She and fellow members of the Citizens Climate Lobby understand that they are working for the long run and that progress demands a wider coalition than our current divisions can quite bear.

They get it. I wish more did. Maybe in time.

This bill will fall out of the basket this month, swept away before the new House seats. But its purpose isn’t to pass this session. Here’s an alternative to regulation and fines, and to jacking up taxes for the benefit of ever more government. It rings a bell, I think, for an incoming House far more likely to address climate change. It shows what’s possible.

I believe carbon emitters should pay the fuller cost of their effect on the environment we all share. And I like the idea of lowering the tax load on citizens, including, well, me. I like the projected increase in jobs, more money in people’s pockets, Democrats and Republicans working together to solve a real problem, a solution that would make an actual dent.

There’s a lot to like. More than all that hot shrieking to no end, anyway.

CORRECTION: Last week I overlooked key information in noting triple the number of U.S. hurricanes recorded 100 years ago compared to today. That is, measurement has improved greatly with satellites. With the disparity weighed, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has the number of hurricanes each year running even with today on average.

Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at or 530-477-4299.

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