Local Business Community Shows Support at Carbon Pricing Hearing
By Tim Cronin, Policy Fellow
Dozens of business leaders joined lawmakers, economists, faith leaders, healthcare specialists, national policymakers, community activists and over a hundred interested citizens to stand in support of carbon pricing bills S.1821 and H.1726. The legislation, before a joint committee of the State House, seeks to put a small fee on carbon pollution, and rebate most or all of the revenue back to households and businesses.
Today’s hearing was an integral part of the growing momentum to pass a statewide price on carbon. Since last year, the campaign has been working to gather support among legislators and educate constituents about the benefits of carbon pricing. So far, the bills have gathered over 80 co-sponsors – more than one-third of the legislature. Last week, 200 supporters attended 50 meetings with legislators during the campaign’s Carbon Pricing Lobby Day.
Why businesses want a carbon price
Passing a statewide carbon price would give energy producers and consumers a strong incentive to shift from fossil fuels to clean energy – while having the freedom to decide how to do so. Both bills would place a small fee on all fossil fuels entering the state. The monies collected by the fee will then be returned back to households and businesses as rebates. Under this market-based policy, business and individuals have the freedom to choose if and how they reduce carbon consumption, unleashing potential for creativity and innovation.
One of the bills (S.1821) uses a revenue-neutral approach, returning 100% of the revenue to households and businesses. Each state resident receives an equal share of the total money collected. Businesses and institutions receive a rebate in proportion to their share of total state employment. The House version (H.1726) takes the reinvestment approach, devoting 20% of the total revenue to the Green Infrastructure Fund (GIF) for investments in transportation, clean energy, and resiliency projects that reduce emissions and create local economic development. The remaining 80% of the revenue would be returned to households and businesses.
J.J. Bartlett, President of Fishing Partnership Support Services and member of the Alliance for Business Leadership, was one business leader who testified on behalf of carbon pricing. “As one of the oldest industries and economic engines of the Commonwealth, we see the financial and geographical impacts of climate change on the front lines,” Bartlett said. “Our fishermen are fiercely independent and no fans of unnecessary regulation. However, they understand that carbon pricing is the fair, market-driven, simple, and common-sense way to make measurable progress in combatting climate change to protect our oceans.”
David Miller, Founder of Clean Energy Venture Group, was another business leader who testified at the hearing. “Carbon pricing is the single most effective policy that the state can implement to reduce economy-wide emissions while providing the predictability that businesses and investors need,” Miller said. “A carbon price would signal to investors that Massachusetts is committed to more reliable and sustainable forms of energy, encouraging greater investment, innovation, and jobs in a rapidly growing sector.”
The momentum builds
Carbon pricing is also gaining momentum on the national level. Just today multiple notable companies and NGOs have announced their support of a price on carbon. These include not only Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, Santander and the Nature Conservancy, but oil heavyweights ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP. All of which cite carbon pricing as the most cost effective and efficient way to significantly reduce U.S. carbon emissions.
Putting a price on carbon is a necessary step to showcasing our state’s climate leadership. Massachusetts was instrumental in the founding of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap and trade market which was extremely successful in reducing electricity related carbon emissions. Since then, transportation has replaced electricity as Massachusetts’ largest source of emissions. By utilizing this cost-effective tool, Massachusetts can harness the power of the market to stimulate economic growth and encourage innovation, clean energy, and efficiency, while helping us reach our emissions reduction mandates. In this way, the state can continue to be a leader in the fight against climate change.
What you can do
We need your help to call on policymakers to support a statewide price on carbon. Call your state legislators to tell them you support the two pending carbon pricing bills, S.1821 and H.1726. The bills cannot move forward until they are voted favorably out of the TUE committee, so we need to demonstrate overwhelming support for the legislation.
About the author: Tim is an economics and politics student at Stonehill College. This past year he had the opportunity to study at Oxford University, exploring global governance, human rights law, and int’l economics. As a senior, Tim will serve as student-body president and continue to fight for sustainable initiatives such as fossil fuel divestment and expanding the college’s solar farm. He has interned at the State House and serves on the board of his local civic association. Tim enjoys reading The Economist, listening to podcasts, and exploring state parks in his free time.