A powerful tool we should use

We just had one of our wettest Aprils on record, yet more than half of our state is abnormally or moderately dry and almost one-fourth in the grip of severe drought. In his May 19 article “Spring rains ‘not nearly enough’ to overcome Northwest drought, wildfire risk, experts say,” Seattle Times’ climate reporter Nicholas Turner further informs us that our long-term precipitation total is still down thanks to a series of dry seasons. And drought is expected here in eastern Washington again this summer.

What does it take to break the pattern of seasonal drought and wildfires in our state — and the Northwest? In the face of climate change, we need a tool with teeth and plenty of punch, but also ready-to-hand and user friendly. Carbon pricing — charging fossil fuel companies for their emissions — is precisely that.

A large-scale study published in Environmental and Resource Economics in 2020 found a 2% lower average annual growth rate in carbon dioxide emissions over a 20-year period among countries with carbon pricing. A fee on carbon also spares the economic cost of multiple government regulations and lets the market drive clean energy use and innovation while creating jobs.

Studies have shown that when the revenue collected is given as a dividend, or monthly cash back, the payment covers the increased energy costs for the vast majority of Americans.

Please join me in urging Senators Murray and Cantwell to include a carbon pricing provision in the budget reconciliation bill. They can be reached at congress.gov. We don’t have to watch the desert gain on us year by year or inhale toxins every summer. We have a powerful tool at our disposal for restoring our climate, if we’ll only use it.

William Engels

Pullman

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