Rick Olson mug

Most Americans today are a bit disappointed as well as a bit relieved as we wait for the final votes for our president to be certified by the states. Neither Republicans nor Democrats were completely victorious or devastated as we will continue to have a divided government in Washington D.C.

But, this actually creates an opportunity. There is a good chance that significant action can be taken to address climate change through enacting the market-based, bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R.763 in the current Congress) rather than the sweeping regulatory approach contemplated in the Green New Deal.

By imposing a fee on carbon, the policy will reduce America’s emissions by at least 40% in the first 12 years. It’s supported by economists and scientists as simple, comprehensive and effective. Being market-based with people voluntarily choosing what to buy based on price signals, we can achieve needed reductions in carbon emissions without restrictive mandates and lessening our freedoms.

By returning to households in the U.S. all but a very small percentage of the fees collected for administrative costs, this will be good for people. The carbon dividend puts money directly into people’s pockets every month to spend as they see fit, helping low and middle income Americans. Additionally, this policy will improve health and save lives by reducing pollution that Americans breathe.

It will create 2.1 million new jobs, thanks to economic growth in local communities across America, so it will also give our economy a boost just when we need it to recover from the COVID-19 recession.

Being bipartisan is also important, as we need congressional action that is not only possible in our divided Capitol, but also that which will not simply be changed by future political changes in the presidency or Congress. That predictability is critical for making major investment decisions in renewable energy sources and conservation.

It is also revenue neutral — with all fees collected on carbon emissions returned to all Americans, the size of the government will not grow. This will not add to our exploding national debt. It will not compete with other high-priority spending needs, such as for fighting COVID-19 now ravaging our country.

It is time to seize this opportunity very quickly to achieve a win for all Americans and minimize the significant negative effects and costs of rising world average temperatures on ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.

Rick Olson is a resident of Spring Lake Township and is retired after a career in agricultural business management, finance, law, school business management and government. Since returning to live in Minnesota five years ago, he seeks to foster civil community conversations on issues important to residents.