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Whitefish shows support of federal carbon act

by HEIDI DESCH
Whitefish Pilot | June 2, 2021 1:00 AM

Whitefish City Council is showing its support for a piece of climate legislation under consideration in U.S. Congress.

Council recently approved a resolution saying it supports the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which would place a fee on carbon pollution and revenue from the fee would be distributed as a rebate to U.S. residents.

Councilor Rebecca Norton said it’s important for the city to support legislation related to taking action on climate change.

“I appreciate the citizens bringing this forward,” she said. “This is an emergency so if this will help, I’m happy to do it.”

Members of the Flathead Valley chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby brought the issue before the city encouraging support of the act. The Citizens Climate Lobby is a nonpartisan advocate climate change organization focused on national policies to address climate change.

Robin Paone, volunteer leader of the Flathead Valley Citizens Climate Lobby, spoke in favor of the resolution after previously bringing the item before Council for its consideration. She commended the city for its climate action plan and its sustainable tourism management plan.

“We know that solving climate change also requires global system change,” she said. “For this reason, we need fair and effective federal legislation and I believe the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act meets this requirement.”

Paone touted some of what she says are the positives of the act saying it will put the United States on a path for zero emissions in 2050 and make fossil fuels more expensive driving businesses to provide clean energy.

Paone said cities showing their support of the act will send a message to Montana Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester and Rep. Matt Rosendale that they too should support the act.

Melissa Hartman also spoke in favor of the city resolution.

“Given the existential threat that climate change poses, I feel we need to use all the available tools and strategies to address this issue,” she said. “Whitefish has already experienced and felt the impact of climate change, and anything we can do to take steps to address this issue, I feel is so vital for our community.”

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act would put a corporate tax on carbon emissions with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The act is proposed to put a fee on fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. The intent is to drive down carbon pollution as energy companies move toward cleaner options.

In turn money collected from the carbon fee is planned to be allocated every month to U.S. residents.

Supporters say the policy would reduce the U.S.’s carbon pollution by 50% by 2030 while encouraging businesses to provide clean energy.

More than 2,000 organizations and individuals have shown support for the climate legislation. In Montana, the legislation has been endorsed by Montana Trout Unlimited and the Montana Ski Area Association.