Congressman Salud Carbajal and Citizens’ Climate Lobby members talked Monday about the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which would tax companies with large carbon footprints and distribute the money directly to the public.
“We are at a key moment in the climate crisis,” Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, said during the event at the Community Environmental Council Hub on Monday. “It seems that we cannot turn on the TV or open our newspapers without a new example of how worsening climate change is devastating our communities.”
The bill aims to help with the Biden Administration’s goal of reducing the United State’s carbon pollution to net zero by 2050.
As proposed in the legislation, which Carbajal introduced in January, companies with high carbon pollution would be taxed by how much they pollute and the money would go back into the hands of Americans in the form of monthly payments, by check or direct deposit.
“I think that’s what makes this really exciting, that all of a sudden everybody will know that addressing climate change is in their direct interest,” Carbajal said. “Not only for our health, the health of the environment, but their own economics.”
The fee companies would have to pay would be based on the cost of carbon tons and would start at $15 an hour and increase by $10 a year, according to Carbajal.
“This year, the rest of the country can appreciate the gravity of what we Californians have lived through for years now,” said Olivia Melonas of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. “Wildfire smoke driving us indoors, hazy orange skies backdrop to many of our days and sometimes the blaze actually tearing through communities and claiming lives.”
Melonas said this bill would give consequences to companies polluting the air and put money back into the hands of people impacted by climate change.
“This type of policy is the single most powerful tool we have to drive down Americans’ carbon pollution,” Melonas said. “It’s critical to hitting our climate targets.”
Carbajal introduced the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act into the House of Representatives on Jan. 25, 2023. Carbajal said there have been four other iterations of this bill introduced in the past.
The current goal for this bill, according to Carbajal, is to get more sponsors and support so it will grab the attention of Congress.
“I’m hoping that we’ll continue to grow support and momentum and get it over the finish line sooner rather than later,” Carbajal said.