Taking a stand inside Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, President Donald Trump on March 28th signed an executive order releasing the coal, oil and natural gas industries from pollution mitigation and thresholds set forth by the previous administration.
Speaking to a crowd of supporters, including industry executives and coal miners, Trump said his Energy Independence Executive Order fulfills a campaign promise for a "new energy revolution."
But Chris McNamara, Arkansas coordinator for Citizens Climate Lobby, a decentralized grassroots organization with 50 state chapters, says there is a conservative-friendly market-based solution to easing fossil fuel carbon emissions in the U.S.
For example, a coal-fired electrical generating station will have to pay a carbon pollution fee, while stations outfitted with expensive carbon capture devices would not. Citizens' Climate Lobby says carbon pollution reduction fees ought to be doled out to American pocketbooks as household dividends.
"So what carbon fee and dividend, or carbon pricing policy is, is we put a price on CO2 emissions. We assess the value of carbon dioxide emissions per ton and then once we have a price let the market adjust how each individual business is going to adapt to this new cost that they have to internalize in their business models."
A group of eight conservative U.S. statesmen and business leaders who comprise the Climate Leadership Council is making a case for carbon fee and dividend, "including Rob Walton, former chairman of the board of Walmart, who was part of a delegation which went to the White House in February to propose a carbon based solution, very similar to Citizens' Climate Lobby's market-based solution.
"So its a huge deal. We also had 17 Republicans come out with a resolution this last month saying with climate change being an issue, we need to address it. So we are seeing bipartisan activity on climate change despite a lack of leadership at the highest level in the the White House."
According to a study for Arkansas Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Fayetteville, conducted by the Regional Economic Models, Inc. in Washington, a carbon fee and dividend policy implemented in Arkansas could result in a reduction of 30 million metric tons of carbon per year and monthly rebates of more than $200 per month per Arkansas household.
For now, he says, Arkansas Citizen Climate Lobby, with organizers in Fayetteville, Little Rock and Hot Springs, is collaborating with the Arkansas business community.
"To bring them to the table with our members of Congress and have the talk about the efforts they are making towards sustainability and why this is important to their bottom line, their culture and lasting power of their business."
But this June, just as summer heats up, a thousand Citizen Climate Lobby members, including several from Arkansas, plan to descend on Washington to lobby members of Congress about the merits of carbon fee and dividend incentives.
This story is produced by Arkansas Public Media, a statewide journalism collaboration among public media organizations. Arkansas Public Media reporting is funded in part through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the support of partner stations KUAR, KUAF, KASU and KTXK and from members of the public. You can learn more and support Arkansas Public Media’s reporting at arkansaspublicmedia.org. Arkansas Public Media is Natural State news with context.