There are alternatives to fossil fuel use
Editor’s note: The following letter is in response to an OpEd piece by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers that was published in the Dec. 15, 2013 issue of the Tri-City Herald
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Tri-City Herald, Dec. 15, p. C1) writes that to get jobs we need to promote economic certainty, champion bipartisan compromise, and reduce regulations.
The fossil fuel industry, and politicians who support it, say that without coal, oil, and natural gas, our economy will collapse.
But we know we can’t keep polluting our atmosphere with fossil fuels without causing a destabilized climate system (please see http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0081648).
The climate is all of our responsibility and needs bipartisan support now to stabilize it. How?
We could meet the entire world’s energy needs with renewable sources in 20 years.
Renewables will provide more and higher paying jobs with more diverse opportunities. This is because direct job creation for oil and natural gas is 0.8 jobs per $1 million in output, and coal’s is 1.9 jobs per $1 million in output. Compare that to building the smart grid (4.3 jobs per $1 million), wind (4.6), mass transit services (11), solar (5.4) and biomass power generation (7.4), and building retrofits for energy efficiency (7).
If we put a gradually increasing fee on carbon with a dividend returned 100 percent to American households, we could make the transition to a “green” economy rapidly and reduce our emissions without restoring to government regulations.
The fee’s predictability will send a clear market signal to promote private investment in alternative energy projects, create millions of jobs, and economic certainty. Current subsidies to the fossil-fuel industry would be eliminated, leveling the playing field for the clean-energy industry to compete. To work domestically and on an international scale, an effective border tax adjustment will be necessary.
Please contact your state and federal representatives and senators and urge them to enact a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend.