The Cap-and-Dividend Bill

The Cap-and-Dividend Bill

Photo from Picasa

Photo from Picasa

The Cap-and-dividend bill

Global warming is the increase in average temperature of the Earth’s surface air. It is a major concern of the Senate this coming year and new plans are in place to manage it. There is a new proposal on the table to curb global warming and it promises to return about $1,100 annually to American consumers. The new bill is known as “cap-and-dividend.” It would require oil, coal and natural gas companies to purchase permits monthly that would allow them to sell their fuels. Seventy-five percent of the money would be returned to the public every month in the form of a dividend check and the remainder of the money would go towards renewable energy studies and conservation programs.

Supporters of the new bill

Supporters of the new bill note that driving up the cost of fossil fuel and making renewables more competitive will cause the emissions to decline. Senator Maria Cantwell said, “The act provides businesses and investors with a simple, predictable mechanism that will open the way to clean energy expansion while achieving America’s goals of reducing carbon emissions.” It is hoped that the cap-and-dividend move manages to spur a greater nationwide trend of moving to energy-efficient ways of life. Cantwell added, “If the government is behind major changes and so are fuel companies, many consumers will follow suit with smaller, everyday changes they can make.”

Critics of the bill

Despite its supporters, there are still some who aren’t as partial to the new “cap-and-dividend” bill. Critics are worried that the new bill could potentially thwart innovation. By limiting Wall Street’s role in the trading of carbon credits, they believe that new technologies will not be nurtured in development. They are citing the lack of investment capital from communities as a major disadvantage.

The cap-and-trade plan

As of 2009 the most popular plan to reduce greenhouse gas effect is through a cap-and-trade plan. In this plan, power producers and emitters of carbon dioxide would have to purchase annual permits from the government to operate. The number of permits given out would slowly decline in numbers to slowly begin filtering out large emitters of gasses. The industries could then either pay to clean up their facilities, or trade permits amongst other facilities. A preliminary version of the cap-and-trade plan has already passed the House and has now moved on to the Senate floor.

What the numbers mean

Senator Susan Collins is a sponsor of the cap-and-dividend bill. She said that after consumers get their $1,100 in rebate checks annually, while paying higher gas and electric prices, they would end up ahead about $102. Costs of course are going to fluctuate from state to state, but on average the plan should level out at a savings of $175 per household. Collins said, “Climate change legislation must protect consumers and industries that could be hit with higher energy prices.”

The future of the bill

Overall the bill has a way to go prior to approval. It is going to be a difficult climb though. Even Democrats in the Senate are having a difficult time finding support strong enough to pass it. Many believe it is too costly for voters. Only time will tell if the bill gains the needed momentum to be passed, but even if it isn’t legislators are still focusing on aiding the world’s global warming problem.

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