The benefits of regional carbon pricing
To the Editor:
Energize Rhode Island Act (H5369/S365) is a landmark bill that would apply a simple and transparent fee on carbon pollution in our state, in coordination with similar bills being considered regionally by our neighboring states of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut. Critics argue that such a fee would distort energy markets and create an unfavorable business environment. But they overlook the short- and long-term costs of environmental degradation that will burden businesses and their clients alike. Critics also overlook the fact that this bill would create a Clean Energy and Jobs Fund, which would return the fees as dividends to residents and businesses.
Outside of debates over the specific mechanism of the bill, I would argue that there is another hidden benefit. Corporations now understand the value of investing in renewables to suit both the values of a majority of their customers, and to manage risk in an increasingly murky energy future. As of December 2016, 71 of the Fortune 100 companies have made energy sustainability commitments, and desirable employers like Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, Toyota, Microsoft and Google are mandating the availability of renewables when looking to locate new facilities. Further, many companies, including Exxon Mobil, support the stability of carbon pricing at a time when global energy markets are subject to a variety of national commitments under the Paris Agreement. Let’s encourage big business to invest in Rhode Island’s economy by signaling our commitment to energy sustainability through common-sense carbon pricing legislation.