The Legislature urged the United States Congress to pass Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation, an initiative designed to support and stimulate the transition away from fossil fuel energy and respond to climate change. The vote was 13-1, with Legislator Dooley Kiefer voting no (Legislator Kiefer said there was language in the resolution she couldn’t support). The carbon fee and dividend legislation would place a fee on the emissions from burning fossil fuels that would be levied at the point of fuel production. The legislation is being advanced by the national Citizens’ Climate Lobby, whose local chapter is seeking support from local legislative bodies. To date, the City of Ithaca Common Council and the Town of Danby have also passed resolutions of support.
Before considering the measure, Legislators heard a presentation from local Citizens Climate Lobby chapter representatives Miranda Phillips and Nancy Jacobson, who noted that the carbon fee and dividend program would be revenue-neutral, protect moderate income and low-income households, and have the potential for longevity. They assessed it as likely to have bipartisan appeal.
The measure calls a prompt and major shift away from fossil fuels as “a necessary cornerstone to any meaningful response to climate change,” and notes that “a steadily increasing fee on fossil fuels at the point of their entry into the economy would be straightforward and make effective use of free-market mechanisms to promote the transition to greater energy conservation and renewable sources of energy.” With all fee revenue rebated to households, the measure notes that the dividend component of the program would allow more than 70% of households to benefit financially, break even, or have only minimal increase costs.
Before legislative discussion, a number of residents addressed the Legislature asking the Legislature to support the carbon fee and dividend legislation.