The Orange County Climate Council announced a community update event and debated a proposal to endorse the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act at its meeting on Thursday.
The event will occur virtually Oct. 22 from 7-8:30 p.m. and will feature discussions from each of the three committees within the council. Discussions will aim to answer questions from the public, as well as showcase what actions have been taken this year to promote environmental sustainability in Orange County.
Those interested in attending must register ahead of time. There is no deadline to register for the event, but the registration process allows people to ask questions to the council.
The council plans to offer a live Q&A session during the event where the submitted questions will be answered.
At the meeting, Citizen's Climate Lobby members Norma Safransky and Sharon Bagatell asked the climate council to consider endorsing the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.
The act is a bipartisan effort by the U.S. House of Representatives to reduce carbon emissions by placing a tax on each ton of emitted greenhouse gases. Fees per metric ton begin at $15, and will increase by $10 or $15 each year depending on future emissions levels.
While the council is not officially affiliated with any local government, many of its members are elected officials or have roles in government. If the climate council were to endorse the act, members involved in local government could potentially bring that information to their superiors in a way to increase local support for the act.
Bagatell said that this act is not a carbon tax, as the revenue raised from the EICDA will become available to any lawful resident as a rebate. She said this is an important distinction, as the rebate is proportional to a household’s actual carbon emission.
“If you’re already living a low-carbon lifestyle, (the rebate) gives you more money to spend,” Bagatell said.
However, members of the council brought up concerns they had with fully endorsing the act. Council member Donna Rubinoff said in the event the act is passed, she’s concerned it will demotivate the House of Representatives from implementing other policies. Rubinoff said her main worry is that policymakers not as concerned with the environment would lose interest in passing other laws to protect it.
“It’s very important for us to understand this in the context of a national climate policy,” Rubinoff said. “This piece alone will not solve all of our problems.”
Bagatell responded by acknowledging Rubinoff’s hesitance, saying that the EICDA is intended as a first emergency step in taking on climate change.
Despite some reservations, the council agreed to form a committee to discuss the matter further, though whether or not they will choose to endorse the bill is unknown.
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