Reclaiming Citizenship on Capitol Hill – Part 2

Part 2: Connecting with the Team

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On Friday evening and through Saturday, I had the great good fortune to spend quality time with our committed and tireless staff. A relatively small group of people working extraordinary hours with energy the origins of which are hard to trace, all to make sure this work of getting citizens to Capitol Hill can be accomplished. Sorting through handouts, filling folders, making name tags, coordinating the calendar of events, and facing the merciless but vital chore of getting volunteers’ schedules for Hill meetings worked out, so we can maximize our impact, were the work of those last hours.

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Price Carbon to Empower Main Street

Price Carbon to Empower Main Street

The Note for June 2014 ]

The transition to a clean energy economy requires a number of significant changes to the status quo. Most central to motivating the transition is the project of revealing the hidden costs associated with how we get energy from carbon-based fuels. As it stands, the whole of civilization and a vast web of natural systems are financing the business model that makes lots of money for a few people and provides us with what appears, due to pervasive market distortions, to be cheap energy. The market fails in this way, because costs remain hidden from view. Consumers, businesses, investors and public policy planners cannot make appropriate decisions about cost efficiency, because they cannot see the costs in dollar amounts.

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REMI Study Shows Carbon Fee & Dividend Grows Economy

Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), one of the most respected economic modeling firms in the world, has produced a new study, using proven and reliable models, which shows that a steadily rising carbon fee returning 100% of revenues to households would create millions of new jobs, expand GDP and save hundreds of thousands of lives. In the first 10 years alone, the plan would generate 2.1 million net new jobs, across the entire US economy.

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It is commonly thought that putting any kind of price on carbon emissions would cause costs to rise unbearably and the economy to slow disruptively. REMI’s new study The Economic, Climate, Fiscal, Power and Demographic Impact of a National Fee-and-Dividend Carbon Tax [pdf] shows that the manner in which the price is applied is what matters, and that getting it right can relieve and even reverse grave inefficiencies in our current market dynamic.

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Op-Ed: In 2014, we need non-ideological problem-solvers to lead our political fortunes in a new direction

Originally published in the January 8, 2014, print edition of the Times of Trenton

Chris Christie famously called out fellow Republicans in 2013, saying the party is not a debating society and needs to do more than enforce artificially pure ideology within its ranks. To win nationally, it needs to govern and to effect viable policies that actually serve the real-life interests of real people. In December, Speaker of the House John Boehner lashed out at the “outside groups” that have been working to subvert the effectiveness of the Congress, criticizing their tactics, such as pushing for a government shutdown even they did not believe would lead to a constructive outcome.

The country is tired of factional obsessions and counterproductive backbiting. There are real problems that require cooperative solutions, where public servants need to work together regardless of ideology, party or media pressures. While ideologues in Washington fight over competing definitions of “market dynamics,” millions of families are running out of opportunity, running out of food assistance, running out of unemployment benefits. Schools continue to face punitive funding overhauls, and cities are faced with irrational cuts to public safety and parks and recreation programs that make our communities safer and more livable.

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You Already Pay a Carbon Tax

…to the oil companies.

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[ The Note for December 2013 ]

It is estimated that nearly $5 trillion per year is spent to support the fossil fuel industry globally by governments (in the form of subsidies, tax credits and other industry support spending) and through hidden “externalized” costs paid by governments and consumers alike (some from health, some from degradation of vital natural resources, some from political and economic turbulence, disruption and waste). It costs a lot of money to make fossil fuels appear to be a “low-cost” way to make historic profits and provide energy. You are paying that hidden carbon tax every day, as part of the cost of almost everything you do.

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Op-Ed: We need to rescue capital from carbon asset risk

Op-Ed: We need to rescue capital from carbon asset risk

First printed in The Times of Trenton, as a guest opinion column, on December 01, 2013

For a long time, fossil fuels have been a smart investment. There is unparalleled infrastructural, political and tax policy support for those investments, and so there is a lot of money to be made. But all markets have nuance, and plenty of people lose money gambling on fossil fuel interests. That has always been true. Now, we face a new kind of crisis in pricing certainty: fossil fuel companies have invested far too much in future production that will not have as high a market value as they would like.

The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reveals that we have a global lifetime carbon fuel budget of 1 trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Any burning of fossil fuels beyond that will bring on unmanageable destabilization of global climate patterns. The cost to government, society and enterprise of dealing with that level of change to the worldwide underpinnings of all our economic activity will be too great to bear.

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