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Bipartisan support for fee-and-dividend policy surprising yet sensible

It’s rare to find Democrats and Republicans on the same side of any major issue, particularly the environment. Narrow that topic to climate change, and odds seem greater it’ll snow tomorrow at One-Mile.

Yet, bipartisan supporters have emerged for a plan to wean America off fossil fuels: a carbon fee-and-dividend plan. As detailed in the CN&R (“Lobbying for change,” Greenways, page 16), an environmental organization and an international advocacy group with conservative backers advocate this policy.

The idea is that suppliers of carbon-emitting sources of energy would pay a fee into a federal fund whose monies would get distributed equally among all Americans, to offset increased prices resulting from the fee. Market forces would provide an incentive for the increased use of green energy over oil, gas and coal; the resultant reduction of CO2 emissions would yield environmental and health benefits.

The interest of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, an eco-advocacy group with a chapter in Chico, is obvious. Less obvious is why GOP stalwarts such as George Schultz, James Baker and Henry Paulson—cabinet secretaries under Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush—would come together on the Climate Leadership Council to co-author “The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends.”

It’s surprising, perhaps, but sensible. Republicans hate increasing taxes and growing government; fee-and-dividend directs money to the people with minimal administration and, thus, no need to expand bureaucracy. Republicans like unfettered capitalism; fee-and-dividend leaves spending and investment decisions in private hands.

The CN&R is encouraged by the momentum amassing behind this policy. Especially in the wake of the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, unity on climate action is more significant than ever.