Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act Action Alert Background and Rationale
What is it?
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 7173, S. 3791) amends the Internal Revenue Code to impose a fee on the carbon content of fuels, including crude oil, natural gas, coal, or any other product derived from those fuels that will be used so as to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The fee is imposed on the producers or importers of the fuels and is equal to the greenhouse gas content of the fuel multiplied by the carbon fee rate. The rate begins at $15 in 2019, increases by $10 each year, and is subject to further adjustments based on the progress in meeting specified emissions reduction targets. The bill also imposes a specified fee on fluorinated greenhouse gases.
The bill includes:
exemptions for fuels used for agricultural or nonemitting purposes,
rebates for facilities that capture and sequester carbon dioxide, and
border adjustment provisions that require certain fees or refunds for carbon-intensive products that are exported or imported.
The fees must be deposited into a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund and used for administrative expenses and dividend payments to U.S. citizens or lawful residents. The fees must be decommissioned when emissions levels and monthly dividend payments fall below specified levels.
The bill also amends the Clean Air Act to suspend certain regulations that limit greenhouse gas emissions. The suspensions expire if the emissions targets established by this bill are not reached after a specified time period.
Why a Carbon Dividend?
The burning of fossil fuels has increased the carbon dioxide content of the Earth’s atmosphere and despite having reaped the benefits of burning fuels for heating, transportation, and urbanization, climate change is changing the weather, melting polar ice caps, enabling diseases and viruses that have existed only in warm regions to move to more temperate zones, destroying species of animals and plants, and raising sea levels. The effects of climate change carry potentially destructive health, environmental, and economic costs though there is currently no financial penalty for pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and accelerating climate change. The true costs of burning of fossil fuels include the ensuing the environmental degradation, economic stagnation, and health risks that pose threats to our nation, countries around the world, and future generations.
2012 Synodical Statement on Climate Change
In 2010, the synod of the CRC instructed that a task force be formed to study and present a Reformed perspective of creation stewardship, including the issue of climate change. In 2012, the Creation Stewardship Task Force presented its findings in the Creation Stewardship Task Force Report (read the summary here). Synod 2012 responded by affirming its findings and adopting its recommendations, thereby becoming one of the first evangelical denominations in the United States to affirm the scientific consensus on climate change, calling it a "moral, religious, and social justice issue," and calling its denominational bodies, congregations, and individual members to private and public action.
Below is Synod 2012's statement, along with its recommendations to the denomination, churches, and its members:
Approved by Synod on June 13 and 14, 2012
It is the current near-consensus of the international scientific community that climate change is occurring and is very likely due to human activity
Human-induced climate change is an ethical, social justice, and religious issue
Such climate change poses a significant threat to future generations, the poor, and the vulnerable
Such climate change poses a significant challenge to us all
We are called to “commit ourselves to honor all God’s creatures and to protect them from abuse and extinction, for our world belongs to God” (Contemporary Testimony, par. 51)
Therefore, even when scientific uncertainties are taken into account, the precautionary principle (e.g., Overture 60, Agenda for Synod 2012, p. 594) compels us to take private and public actions to address climate change.
The second edition of Our World Belongs to God, approved by Synod in 2008, expresses our faith within the heritage of the Reformed confessions, especially addressing issues that confront the church today. Article 51 of the statement speaks directly to the degradation of creation that has happened as a result of the ways in which humans interact with creation.
51. We lament that our abuse of creation
has brought lasting damage
to the world we have been given:
polluting streams and soil,
poisoning the air,
altering the climate,
and damaging the earth.
We commit ourselves
to honor all God’s creatures
and to protect them from abuse and extinction,
for our world belongs to God.