A bill is coming? Here’s our take.

A bill is coming? Here’s our take.

During a press conference on June 5, we discussed the differences between Councilmember Mary Cheh’s draft proposal for a carbon pricing bill and our own proposal. To clear up any confusion, here’s some context on what’s happening with the two differing proposals. 

After you read, send a message to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson urging him to introduce the carbon pricing bill as soon as possible.


We appreciate Councilmember Cheh’s leadership towards strong climate policy. Since October, her office has convened a “working group” to fulfill the Chairman’s request for a consensus approach. In May, Councilmember Mary Cheh’s office released a discussion proposal that aims to find a compromise between the aims of advocates and business representatives.

We are excited to see that the proposal prices heating fuels, takes an innovative approach to transportation, and strengthens the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS. It directs revenue to residential rebates, the Green Bank, and energy efficiency.

Councilmember Cheh’s proposal is headed in the right direction. Before passage, however, we believe that it must be strengthened.

In order to meet Mayor Bowser’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement’s emissions reduction targets and to carbon neutrality by 2050, we need a much more robust price on carbon.

The Coalition remains committed to a policy that starts at $20 per ton in 2019 and rises $10 per year to reach $150 per ton in 2032. If that sounds high, consider that even conservative national proposals begin at $40/ton, and experts recommend that prices reach the hundreds – if not thousands of dollars – within a few decades.

Councilmember Cheh’s proposal cuts this price path ambition in half. It begins pricing only heating fuels at $10/ton, increases only $5/year, and caps at only $100 in 2038. As a result, the Coalition proposal cuts 2.2 times more carbon from oil and natural gas use. It would cut climate pollution in DC by at least 23% by 2032. The alternative will reduce less.

There is also a reduction in scope of the carbon price itself. Cheh’s proposal excludes electricity from the price, which by 2013 accounting comprises about 55% of District emissions. Instead, her proposal relies on Chairman Mendelson’s 100% by 2050 RPS bill introduced last month.

The best research on what is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate disruption, for instance the Beyond 2 Degree Scenario from the International Energy Agency, shows that the United States and other developed countries need to move to 100% clean energy across the entire economy (not just electricity) by 2050. This necessitates a move to 100% clean electricity even sooner so that renewable electricity is able to power transportation and heating needs by 2050. If the Council is intent on reducing electricity emissions via a new RPS, the target date must be significantly sooner.

That said, we applaud innovative elements of Councilmember Cheh’s proposal that would lead to additional clean energy development in the region, and push Pepco-Exelon to green its energy mix faster.

We also applaud her approach to transportation, which mirrors our own. The final bill should specify that DC will price gasoline and diesel once one neighboring jurisdiction does the same.

Our Coalition continues to believe that rebating 75% of the money to District residents is the best use of the funds. However, we are open to Cheh’s proposal of appointing a temporary commission to address how to fairly send revenues back to low and middle-income households.

We again wish to thank Councilmember Cheh for her sincere efforts on pricing carbon in the District. It has been a remarkable investment of time and care that reflects how seriously she takes the issue of climate disruption. We look forward to working with the Council to introduce a strengthened bill before the summer recess and passing it this year.

We Have A Bill! Celebrate the Introduction of a DC Carbon Price

We Have A Bill! Celebrate the Introduction of a DC Carbon Price

June 5, 9:00 AM

It’s finally here–the date Councilmember Cheh has proposed to introduce a carbon fee bill! Join us for a press conference and to celebrate.

Here are the details:
Who: Everyone in favor of a carbon fee and rebate in DC
What: Press conference and celebration of the introduction of a carbon fee bill
Where: Front steps of the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington DC, 20004
When: Tuesday June 5th at 9:00 AM

RSVP today!

Chairman Mendelson’s Recently-Introduced Renewable Portfolio Expansion Bill May Serve to Distract from the Carbon Pricing Campaign

Chairman Mendelson’s Recently-Introduced Renewable Portfolio Expansion Bill May Serve to Distract from the Carbon Pricing Campaign

RPS bill just a starting point for strong climate action; Bill for a strong and equitable carbon fee policy expected to be introduced on June 5.

WASHINGTON, DC — This week, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced a bill to expand D.C.’s renewable energy requirement to 100% by 2050. The bill expands on an existing Renewable Portfolio Standard, which calls for 50% of electricity in the District to be sourced by renewable energy by 2032.

In response, the 70-member “Put A Price On It D.C.” coalition delivered a letter expressing disappointment that Chairman Mendelson failed to consult leading environmental advocates in the District. The coalition has been urging the Council to introduce a more ambitious and timely carbon “fee-and-rebate” policy, which would put a fee on fossil fuel energy and re-invest the revenue into the D.C. community with rebates to residents and strategic investments in clean energy solutions.

The letter states in part:

Unfortunately, because [the RPS bill] only looks to action in 2033 and beyond, your proposed RPS bill will not put DC on track to meet our 2032 targets. Due to the time-urgent nature of climate disruption, immediate measures to conserve and clean up our energy use are orders of magnitude more valuable than delayed action. Your bill also does not address climate pollution related to inefficiency, transportation, or other fossil-fuel based sources in DC, including gas and home heating oil. […]

We stand united in our call for a fair, meaningful and steadily rising carbon fee, rebate, and investment solution that will equitably achieve DC’s greenhouse gas emissions goals. As you know, we are ready to negotiate on the specifics of carbon pricing legislation. And as you know from conversations with advocates over the past two weeks, the 100% clean energy goal can readily be achieved in coordination with the carbon pricing approach already under development.

The coalition calls on Chairman Mendelson to enter “a direct conversation” as a next step in melding the RPS bill with the carbon pricing proposal.

Camila Thorndike, Carbon Pricing Director at CCAN Action Fund, further stated in response:

That Chairman Phil Mendelson has proposed an expansion of the renewable energy standard to 100% by 2050 should be applauded, but it should not distract from the urgent need to implement a stronger climate policy right now.

This RPS bill needs to be seen in the context of DC’s existing policy framework and the long-standing priorities of advocates and subject matter experts in the area. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s “Sustainable D.C.” plan includes the urgent goal to reduce carbon emissions 50% by 2032. However, D.C. is not on track to meet its goals by 2032, and this bill does nothing to close the gap — it would not go into effect until 2033. This could create a delay in the city’s efforts to address the urgent challenge of climate change. Further, the renewable portfolio expansion bill does not include anything to protect D.C. residents in the transition to clean energy.

A carbon fee-and-rebate policy provides an equitable solution to the climate crisis, and it would work to drive the decarbonization that Chairperson Mendelson and Councilmember Cheh clearly seek—but only if the DC Council passes it first.

After three years of intense scrutiny, climate and economic experts have determined that a carbon fee-and-rebate policy would be the strongest and most comprehensive approach to addressing climate change in the District in an equitable manner. The renewable portfolio expansion bill, if it is enacted separately from a comprehensive carbon pricing approach, is only a small part of the package and may at this point only serve as a distraction to equitably meeting DC’s targets.

We look forward to working with the D.C. Council on the carbon fee bill with our strong coalition when it is introduced on June 5, as Councilmember Mary Cheh has proposed.

The “Put A Price On It, D.C.” coalition is comprised of more than 70 climate and justice advocacy organizations, including more than a dozen local businesses.

###

CONTACT:
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 608-620-8819
Camila Thorndike, Carbon Pricing Director, camila@chesapeakeclimate.org, 541-951-2619

We have a (draft) bill.

We have a (draft) bill.

*NOTE: This is a draft bill from the Put a Price On It DC coalition – the final bill released by the DC Council may differ as it is revised and edited.

Big, exciting news from the #PriceItDC coalition!

After years of organizing and deliberating, the coalition has put together a draft of a bill that would place a fee on carbon pollution and rebate the revenue to DC residents. MANY  thanks to the several policy experts, researchers, coalition partners and legislative drafting volunteers who have worked relentlessly to bring the coalition’s vision into reality.

See the bill in full below — click through to see it all!

DC carbon fee_2018_draft

 

For the visually minded among you, check out this cool graphic showing how the policy would work:

 

 

Speak up for #PriceItDC at the D.C. Candidate Forums

Speak up for #PriceItDC at the D.C. Candidate Forums

Election season is underway for the D.C. city council. Join us during the month of May at candidate forums to show your support for #PriceItDC and climate action.

We need YOU to make sure that everyone running for office this year knows: D.C. residents want leaders who will act on climate, protect our communities, and pass a carbon rebate NOW.

Thursday, May 3: Hear the Candidates!
Where: Westminster Presbyterian Church (400 Eye Street SW)
When: Thursday, May 3, 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Saturday, May 12: 2018 “I Rent, I Vote”: Tenant Town Hall and Candidate Forum
Where: All Souls Unitarian Church (1500 Harvard St NW)
When: Saturday, May 12, 11:00am – 3:00pm

Thursday, May 31: The “Year of the Anacostia” Candidates Forum
Where: Anacostia High School (1601 16th street, SE)
When: Thursday, May 31, 6:00 – 9:00pm

RSVP Here!

#PriceItDC at the DOEE Budget Hearing

#PriceItDC at the DOEE Budget Hearing

Committee on Transportation and the Environment

On Tuesday, CCAN Carbon Pricing Campaign Director Camila Thorndike represented nearly 70 organizations when speaking to the D.C. Council about the necessity of a carbon price at the DOEE Budget Oversight Hearing.

Mayor Bowser and the D.C. council plan for D.C. to be carbon neutral by 2050. Camila reminded the council that “the least expensive fuel will win”, emphasizing how important a carbon price is as we move away from fossil fuels. DC needs substantive policy interjections if we want to have any hope of reaching our carbon neutral goal.

WATCH the amazing Camila give her testimony — or, read a script below.

 


Thank you to Committee Chair Cheh for the opportunity to testify at today’s hearing. My name is Camila Thorndike, and I am here representing nearly 70 organizations and thousands of voters behind the growing campaign to Put a Price on It D.C. We are proud to work with your office, with Director Wells, and the rest of the Council to advance comprehensive climate policy.

First, we applaud Director Wells and the Bowser administration for setting ambitious goals.

Last year, Mayor Bowser told the world “We’re Still In” the Paris Climate Accord. The Sustainable DC Plan establishes commitments for the District to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% below 2006 levels by 2032 and 80% by 2050, which the Administration again affirmed as a member of the C40 cities.

At the North American Climate Summit last December, Mayor Bowser pushed expectations even higher by pledging to make the District carbon-neutral by 2050. She said: “we will not let federal inaction hinder our progress.”

We are now over a year into Trump’s presidency. States and cities that have declared themselves leaders in the resistance now need to deliver results. So, what has been achieved so far?

The 2017 Sustainable DC Progress Report cites a 24% reduction from 2006 emission levels. Unfortunately, the lion’s share of this progress can be attributed not to local leadership, but to fuel switching at the grid level.

According to the PSC, the share of electricity provided by natural gas grew by 62 percent from 2013 to 2016. This was driven by the economics of cheap natural gas, demonstrating the power of a simple price signal: the least expensive fuel will win. (Indeed, we need look no farther to understand why carbon pricing is the most effective of climate policies.)

Unfortunately, even D.C.’s methane-driven emission reduction claims should be viewed with skepticism. In February, Environmental Defense Fund reported that emissions of natural gas, or methane — which is upwards of 86 times stronger a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide — are dramatically higher than official state accounts. In Pennsylvania, which is within the PJM grid that powers D.C., wasted gas causes “the same near-term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants.”

Even if the accounting behind D.C.’s climate progress were trustworthy, it is highly unlikely that the rapid decline in emissions will continue without substantive new policy interjections.

So, in what kind of policy should D.C. taxpayers and voters place their trust for a livable future?

First, let us acknowledge that managing the entire energy transition through agency programs is an overwhelming and unreasonable demand. What is needed is a fundamental shift. The fastest way to catalyze a comprehensive, cost-effective and lasting transition to a carbon-free D.C. is a strong and equitable price on carbon.

Councilmembers and Director Wells: providing genuine climate leadership to the nation is a tough job. The market should be working for you, not against you.

With an economy-wide fee on carbon pollution, DOEE’s existing work will be supercharged. Just imagine: when the true cost of fossil fuels is appropriately accounted for, lines will form around the block for programs like Solar for All!

And while there is much to like in the DOEE budget, I want to end with a note on equity, because we are concerned about the budget’s $90,000 cut to Environmental Justice.

Any change in energy policy and programs has a price effect. In other words, nearly every single choice you make redistributes income. In the era of the radical GOP tax overhaul and significant budget surplus in D.C., there is no excuse not to ensure equitable outcomes in climate and energy policy.

This means increasing funding for Environmental Justice. It means supporting not only a carbon fee, but a carbon rebate — especially for families being punished in the current economy.

The Carbon Fee-and-Rebate creates a sustainable long-term strategy for reducing CO2 emissions, because citizens are highly likely to support a policy that will help them cope with higher energy prices during the economy’s transition to clean, renewable energy.

We are running out of time to stabilize our climate. 2017 gave us a world where truly extreme weather events appear to be the new normal – wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, a “bomb cyclone” snow storm, and 82 degree days in February.

Putting a price on every ton of carbon pollution is one of the most effective ways to equitably reduce pollution and increase prosperity. The Carbon Fee-and-Rebate would ensure we are “backing up our DC values with action,” as Mayor Bowser pledged in Chicago.

We look forward to working with you to ensure this bedrock policy is finally put into place.

How to Solve the District’s Air Quality Problem

How to Solve the District’s Air Quality Problem

By Molly Rauch

D.C. Carbon Fee and Rebate is the answer we’ve been looking for.

Right now, the D.C. City Council is considering introducing a price on carbon that would significantly drive down carbon dioxide emissions in our city — while giving revenue directly back to District residents. As a groundbreaking local response to the threat of climate change, the carbon fee and rebate policy would benefit D.C. families.

Climate change is personal, it is a major threat to my children’s health and future. It will bring more intense and frequent heat waves to our city which already suffers from oppressive and humid summers, and where, as in many cities, heat is disproportionately dangerous for the poorest communities. Additionally, extreme weather events will increase in frequency and we could see more ticks and mosquitoes which carry diseases like Zika and West Nile Virus – even possibly bringing malaria back to the region. Climate change also threatens our air, it is likely to trigger deterioration in air quality over time.

Poor air quality is not something I take lightly. As someone who has been prescribed a rescue inhaler to control my respiratory problems, I know how bad air days can affect my breathing. Sometimes it feels like a sunburn inside my lungs. Air pollution is especially dangerous for children, whose lungs are still developing into adulthood. Breathing polluted air interferes with normal lung development, increases the risk of asthma in children, and triggers asthma attacks. Here in D.C., 12% of all children have asthma, higher than the national average. If you walk into any school nurse’s office in the district you will see evidence of this epidemic – dozens upon dozens of inhalers bundled with their asthma plans.They are stacked, hung, or filed for the children who need them in case of an attack.

D.C. suffers from poor air quality due to ground level ozone, smog. The American Lung Association has given the District an F for persistent smog problems. Smog is formed when chemicals in the atmosphere react with heat and sunlight. The chemicals which undergo this reaction are known as “ozone precursors” and include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), methane, and nitrogen oxides (NOx). In D.C., ozone precursors come from our region’s infamous vehicle traffic, as well as pollution from power plants, factories, and other industrial facilities that is blown in from nearby states.

The thing about smog, is that heat and sunlight speed up the chemical reaction which creates it. As temperatures rise, smog levels also tend to rise. Climate change and the resulting increase in temperature is likely to increase smog levels in cities across the country, including our district.This will increase the asthma burden in our city, directly harming our children and families.

This is why the carbon fee and rebate policy is important for the health of our community. The policy would charge major polluters like PepcoExelon and Washington Gas for their carbon emissions. The overwhelming majority of the revenue would be returned to District residents. ​The carbon fee would apply to natural gas and oil consumed in the city as well as carbon-intensive electricity and emissions linked to transportation — exempting public transportation. Companies that buy and sell fossil fuels in our city would pay a steadily rising fee on each ton of heat-trapping pollution they cause. Returning that fee to residents through a rebate would ensure that ratepayers break even or come out ahead. Low-income families would receive a boosted rebate to help compensate for the damages of pollution they already suffer from and to alleviate poverty.

The carbon fee and rebate would result in improved air quality over time. Greenhouse gas emissions from the use of electricity, natural gas, and home-heating fuel would fall 23% relative to a business-as-usual baseline by 2032. Those co-pollutants released alongside carbon dioxide – smog precursors, NOx, and particle pollution among them – would also decline, immediately improving our local air. Moreover, D.C.’s policy could become the basis for other cities, counties, and states across the country to pass similar policies of their own. Widespread action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will not only improve air quality, but it will also mitigate global warming.

With no voting representation in Congress, D.C. has little obvious influence on the Hill. This doesn’t mean our city can’t lead the rest of the country by implementing climate solutions at the local level which protect our health and alleviate poverty. Our city can show true leadership in the climate movement and serve as an example to cities across the country by implementing a carbon fee and rebate policy. Moms in D.C. and beyond understand this is the right path for our children’s health and future.


Molly Rauch is public health policy director for Moms Clean Air Force. She lives with her family in Washington, DC, where she serves on the District of Columbia’s Commission on Climate Change and Resiliency.

DC Environmental Film Festival: Spread the word about the carbon price!

DC Environmental Film Festival: Spread the word about the carbon price!

March 15-25

Join us at the biggest film event of the year as we spread the word about the “Put A Price On It, D.C.” campaign!

Every year, the D.C. Environmental Film Festival premiers a showcase of environmentally themed films.This year, the Environmental Film Festival starts Thursday, March 15th and ends Sunday, March 25th. This is the largest environmental film festival in the world. And it’s a great opportunity for us to spread the word and build momentum to victory!

But we need your help! We have many volunteer opportunities for you to help us collect petitions and recruit new volunteers for the campaign. The screenings will take place at museums, embassies, libraries, universities and local theaters throughout the city.

RSVP here!

Where’s the Bill? Day of Climate Action

Where’s the Bill? Day of Climate Action

April 13th 12:30-3:00 pm

We’re bringing EVERYONE together to descend on the D.C. Council Building to urge our Councilmembers to support and pass a carbon fee-and-rebate policy.

On April 13, we’ll kick off an action-packed day with a rally at 12:30pm outside the Wilson Building led by students and professors from across D.C. Then at 1:30pm we’ll head inside to meet our legislators face to face.

The day’s events will focus on students and D.C. youth because their immediate futures are at risk. However, everyone who cares about the future of the city is invited to join and support the students as we work together to pass a carbon fee-and-rebate this year!

Here are the details:

What: Where’s the Bill? Day of Climate Action
When: April 13th 12:30-3:00 pm
Where: John A. Wilson Building 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 506 Washington, DC 20004
(2 blocks south of Metro Center)
Details: Wear yellow! We’ll have some yellow campaign shirts to loan, but please wear yellow if you can.
Why: It’s time to pass a carbon fee and rebate in D.C!

 

RSVP now!

Faces of the Campaign: Meet Assata Harris

Faces of the Campaign: Meet Assata Harris

Faces of the Campaign is an ongoing series featuring our key organizers and stakeholders involved in “Put A Price On It, D.C.” Our coalition — more than 45 groups as of this writing — is comprised of racial justice activists, union workers, health advocates, moms, dads, kids, retirees, and business-owners alike. Assata Harris is the Climate Justice Organizer the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.  Here’s her story.

Why does the campaign to put a price on carbon in DC and rebate the revenue matter to you?

When I think of climate justice, I have to be honest with you…. racial and economic justice are not typically the first thing that pops into my mind. However, after I became involved with the “Put A Price On It, D.C” campaign I realized that climate justice and environmental justice don’t have to be either/or they can be both. This policy matters to me because, like you, I recognize climate change as a central issue of our time that affects us all. This campaign goes to the next steps and tackles economic justice at the same time.

What has been your favorite moment in this campaign so far?

I think my favorite moment of this campaign was different moments of interacting with amazing volunteers of all different backgrounds who are really committed to fighting climate change while lifting up our most vulnerable communities. It feels wonderful everyday to wake up and know I am a part of a movement that reflects the diversity of the world we live in.

What was your biggest accomplishment on this campaign?

My biggest accomplishment thus far is really learning how carbon pricing actually works, not just in a theoretical level but in a way that makes sense for our communities. I must admit, it can be very complicated. But with all of the support that CCAN has provided, this journey to understand carbon pricing has been very straightforward and informative! Carbon pricing is the most creative way to tackle two issues of our time: economic justice and climate justice.

Who is your inspiration?

Assata Shakur, my namesake, a personal hero of mine! She was a great community organizer, who used passion as her strategy.