2013-01-31 / Letters to the Editor

Congress needs to address climate change

During his second inaugural address last week, President Obama promised action on climate change during his second term, acknowledging that “failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” With the current partisan divide in Congress dimming the prospects for effective climate legislation, the administration is likely to turn to the Environmental Protection Agency to further regulate greenhouse gas emissions, extending such rules to existing coal-fired power plants.

It’s a start, but a regulatory approach would become unnecessary with the passage of a steadily rising tax on the CO2 content of coal, oil and gas. A clear and predictable price on carbon would use the power of the market to speed the transition to clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If the revenue from this tax were returned to households, consumers would be shielded from the economic impact of rising energy costs associated with the price on carbon.

Furthermore, if coupled with a tariff on goods from nations that lack similar carbon pricing, the carbon fee and dividend would also achieve something unattainable through regulation– motivation for other nations to initiate policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In a recent online posting, U.S. Sen. Whitehouse wrote that he was “glad to hear [the president] state his intent to act on an issue that has already affected too many lives – climate change.”

I am looking forward to his efforts and to those of the president. It’s time for Republicans to meet the president – and their colleagues across the aisle – halfway with a solution that uses the marketplace, rather than government regulations.

Last summer’s heat was record breaking. And stifling. Major damage to our beaches and seawalls is becom- ing more and more frequent as a result of sea-level rise. I know we’ve all noticed. We need our lawmakers to find common ground and enact legislation that steers us away from a precipice far more dangerous than the fiscal cliff.

Also, I am one of the heads of the Rhode Island chapter of Citizen’s Climate Lobby, an organization dedicated to cultivating political will for safe climate legislation. Our next meeting will take place at noon on Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Portsmouth Library, 2658 East Main Road. All are invited to attend.

Alison Glassie
Ocean Avenue

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