Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Carbon Fee and Dividend could help revitalize Big Horn County

Thank you, coal miners and fossil fuel industry workers. For generations, you and your families have provided the fuel to heat our homes, drive our cars, run our industries and defend our nation. This work has come at great cost to miners and their families.
 
But now, despite your dedication, the economics of America’s energy is shifting away from coal, causing unemployment for miners. Rocky Mountain Power owes taxes to Big Horn County, says it’s losing money and may shut down.
 
How do you maintain your livelihood and provide for your family? Nobody wants to force a whole town or industry into unemployment with no resources. At the same time, nobody wants an unstable climate that threatens our national security, either.
 
Where does that leave us?
 
Coal is ceasing to be a competitive energy option, in large part due to cheap natural gas. Now, you see wind and solar farms sprouting up all over the plains. We’re at the beginning of an exciting energy transition. In Sweet Grass County, we’ve welcomed wind and solar farms to broaden our tax base.
 
I wish I had instant high-paying jobs for all of us. I don’t. But what I can share is this information: on a national policy level, the Carbon Fee and Dividend can help revitalize coal country with a market-based solution that could create 2-3 million jobs and save 230,000 lives thanks to better air quality in the first 20 years alone, according to a study by Regional Economic Models Inc.
 
Gradually rising fees are collected from the fossil fuel companies and are given back directly to us as rising monthly dividends. The size of a monthly dividend for a family of four with two adults in 2025 would be $288, and in 2035, it would be $396.
 
In addition to the Carbon Fee and Dividend, legislators can pursue other measures to help our communities. Relatively minor investments in retraining coal miners to work in the solar energy industry is entirely possible.
 
Also, states like ours with communities formerly reliant on coal could offer their own tax incentives to companies such as clean tech firms, motivating them to relocate and take advantage of an at-the-ready workforce.
 
We all love our families, our children and our grandchildren. We want them all to have healthy and prosperous lives now and in the future. You helped enable all of us to achieve the highest standard of living in the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, and we should all be grateful to you. Now, we need you to help us lead the world in doing things a new way, for this new day.
 
Please ask our representatives, Congressman Gianforte and Sens. Daines and Tester, to enact the Carbon Fee and Dividend and to invest in helping our workers make the transition to the new energy economy.
 
Alexandra Amonette
Technical Writer/Editor
Big Timber, Mont.
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