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On the heels of President Obama’s call to action in his State of the Union address and the arrest of 48 environmental, civil rights and community leaders at a protest of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have introduced the first serious climate legislation since cap and trade failed to pass the Senate in 2009. The bill would put a $20/ton fee on the dangerous carbon pollution driving climate impacts like Hurricane Sandy, raising trillions of dollars to offset any impact on consumers and create new investment in renewable energy sources.
“The leading scientists in the world who study climate change now tell us that their projections in the past were wrong; that, in fact, the crisis facing our planet is much more serious than they had previously believed,” Sanders told a news conference in the Senate environment committee hearing room.
Greenpeace Climate Campaign Director Gabe Wisniewski remarked, “After years of our leaders in government failing to even acknowledge the overwhelming threat of climate change, this bill restarts critical momentum toward solutions. The legislation on its own would not be sufficient to address the rapidly unraveling climate system, but it represents the kind of leadership that we so desperately need in Washington. We hope other leaders in Congress will wake up to the reality of the climate threat, and the huge economic opportunities before us if we take action now.”
Additional measures are being considered that would roll back some of the billions of dollars in subsidies that have flowed to the fossil fuel industry, keeping it afloat despite the economic competitiveness of energy efficiency and renewable resources like wind and solar.
“Sens. Sanders and Boxer actually understand the depth of the climate problem we face. We are awfully grateful to them for starting us down the legislative path that could reverse our disastrous course. We hope and trust that they won’t have to be a lone voice,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, one day after his arrest at a White House protest on a controversial oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
“Climate disruption is one of the most pressing challenges of our time and we must move forward with solutions on all fronts. While all eyes are on President Obama’s pending actions to cut carbon emissions from power plants, halt risky drilling in America’s arctic, and reject the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline, we need champions in the Senate like Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer pushing strong, comprehensive climate solutions that can double down on these critical administrative actions,” added Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.
“Pricing carbon is an important tool to address climate change, and this legislation ensures that working families aren’t penalized by dedicating 3/5 of revenues to a per-capita family refund. This will protect families at the same time we seek to protect the climate,” said Tyson Slocum, Public Citizen’s energy program director.