On Tuesday, December 11, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution calling upon Congress to “expeditiously enact a revenue neutral carbon tax to combat global warming”, and supporting legislation that contains no immunity or exemptions for fossil fuel producers. Supervisors Long and Foy voted against the resolution.
The county becomes the first in Southern California to support the Citizen’s Climate Lobby (CCL) proposal for a federal Carbon Fee and Dividend Program. Fourteen other counties in Northern California, Colorado, Georgia, New Mexico, New York, Utah, and Wisconsin as well as over 100 cities.
As lead sponsor of the resolution, Supervisor Steve Bennett spoke about how it builds on the momentum of the county’s progress toward local green energy and towards a strong Climate Action Plan. In a slide presentation he clarified features of CCL’s policy proposal:
- It is the opposite of a ‘command and control’ program. It does not ‘force’ changes. It is a ‘market-based mechanism’ that works to correct a distorted price throughout the economy because fossil fuels are subsidized by taxpayer dollars and do not pay for the pollution they cause.
- It is more favorable to low-income people than most other carbon pricing plans.
- It raises prices steadily on whatever depends on fossil fuels, but it is inherently flexible in that it returns all revenue to households so everyone can invest in the best adjustments for them.
- It provides a long-range window for forecasting and planning for small businesses as well as unleashing American technology innovation and ingenuity.
- It stimulates the economy with an increase in GDP, creates more jobs, improves air quality, and reduces health care costs.
- The French carbon tax that the people are protesting does not distribute the revenues to the people like CCL’s plan does.
- Carbon pricing failed to get public support in France because it became a financial burden on households.
- The way to prevent that is to return all the revenue to people, and that’s what a revenue neutral carbon tax policy does. The French made an unfair carbon tax design.
- Fairness to low-income people is a feature of CCL’s policy.
Supervisor Bennett showed polling data that 68 per cent of people in Ventura County want to see a carbon tax on fossil fuel companies. Supervisor John Zaragoza brought to the Board’s attention that HR 7173 was recently introduced in the US House of Representatives by a group of Republicans and Democrats. Entitled the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, it would return a climate dividend payment to the pockets of all Americans.
Supervisor Linda Parks asked that the resolution include that any legislation to put a price on carbon should not exempt current federal Clean Power Plan regulations or give immunity for the damages caused by the burning of fossil fuels. She did not want to appear to be supporting a carbon tax proposal advocated by fossil fuel companies that includes exemptions and permanent immunity. Supervisor Bennett answered the concerns expressed by Supervisor Kelly Long about double taxation and conflict with state policies in that this policy would improve and not conflict with state carbon pricing policies.
In public comment Dr. Richard Elsley, leader of the Conejo Valley Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby clarified that actually 97.5% of scientists agree that climate change is real and caused by human activity. Kimberly Rivers, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsible Oil and Gas commented that while Western States Petroleum advocates a sustainable energy future that appears to mean that they want to sustain pollution of the atmosphere by fossil fuels.
Jan Dietrick, Ventura CCL Chapter Leader asked 15 supporters to stand, saying there are over 500 CCL members throughout the county. She said those interested in learning more about CCL can go to www.citizensclimatelobby.org and that organizations and community leaders who want to endorse the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, can do so at www.energyinnovation.org.