Congressman Chris Van Hollen Introduces Innovative Bill to Fight Climate Change While Aiding Middle Class Americans

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For Immediate Release

July 30, 2014

Environmental and consumer groups hail the ‘Healthy Climate and Family Security Act’ as a needed response to deepening global warming impacts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a time of worsening global warming impacts, Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) today introduced the “Healthy Climate and Family Security Act.” The bill is designed to help repair shrinking polar ice caps while at the same time aiding the shrinking American middle class.

The legislation, hailed by environmental and consumer groups, employs a straightforward, common-sense “cap and dividend” approach to tackling global warming. It would place a hard and steadily declining cap on emissions of heat-trapping pollution and rebate 100 percent of the proceeds from pollution permit auctions to U.S. residents, creating a healthier economy and more prosperous middle class.

“Two of the most pressing challenges we face as a country are the need to address the economic costs and public health risks associated with climate change, and to strengthen the middle class. We do both in this bill,” said Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md), lead sponsor of the bill. “By capping carbon emissions, selling permits, and returning 100 percent of the revenue to everyone equally, this ‘Cap and Dividend’ approach achieves necessary greenhouse gas reductions while boosting the purchasing power of families across the country. Tackling our problems and moving everyone forward is America at its best. That’s what this bill does, and that’s exactly where we need to be.”

As the planet crosses the danger zone of 400 parts per million carbon in the atmosphere – with droughts and extreme weather and sea-level rise affecting broad parts of the nation – this bill sets a declining cap for carbon dioxide emissions that would start in 2015 and lead to a total emission reduction of 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. Proceeds from the cap — raised at auction from oil, coal, and natural gas companies — would then be rebated in equal-size shares to every U.S. resident with a social security number. The entire process is simple, fair, and designed to function efficiently over the next several decades it will take to fully “de-carbonize” the U.S. economy.

Under the bill, all Americans will receive a quarterly “dividend” payment as compensation from the roughly 2,500 companies who introduce carbon fuels into the economy. Even accounting for some rise in fossil fuel prices under this policy, the median American household of four will likely receive a net benefit of about $260 per year in the first year. That figure will grow steadily in following years. All lower and middle-income Americans will see a net increase in their annual income.

The bill already has the support of a broad coalition of local, state and national groups representing environmental, consumer, and justice communities.

“Hands down, the Van Hollen ‘cap and dividend’ bill is the strongest strategy to reduce climate pollution ever introduced in Congress,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Unlike ‘cap and trade’ and many other proposals, this one gets the job done in a way that’s simple, increases family budgets, and is utterly fair to all Americans.”

Original co-sponsors include Congressmen Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), and Rush Holt (NJ-12).

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