CARBON FEE STUDY SHOWS CLEAR BENEFITS FOR ARKANSAS
A new study shows Arkansas could add tens of thousands of jobs while reducing air pollution and improving quality of life across the state.
CFC member organization Arkansas Citizens’ Climate Lobby commissioned the report to show the impact a Carbon Fee and Dividend (CF&D) would have on our economy and environment. The Panel helped raise money for it to support CCL and the CFC.
“Arkansas has a chance to capitalize on this free-market approach to carbon reduction,” said Robert McAfee of CCL. “We can make the state a healthier place, while boosting the economy and attracting new jobs. It also puts Arkansas’ economy in position to be a leader in the coming clean energy revolution.”
Under the plan, electric power plants that burn coal or natural gas would be charged a fee for each ton of carbon pollution they emit. The fee would be distributed monthly to every Arkansan over the age of 18. Employers also receive dividends, based on the number of people they employ.
The policy is expected to generate 20-30,000 additional jobs over the baseline scenario. The reduced emissions would bring the state into compliance with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan by 2030.
“As the price of fossil fuels increases, polluters will look for cleaner and more efficient energy,” said Chris McNamara of CCL. “This increases renewable energy investments, and the monthly distribution of the fees puts money back in people’s pockets, encouraging spending and stimulating the economy.”
Arkansas, and every state, needs to dramatically reduce carbon emissions to meet the demands of the federal Clean Power Plan, international treaties, and a moral imperative. The scientific consensus is that our planet is headed toward a major crisis because of carbon pollution. The question is what is the best way to reduce those carbon emissions.
Some proposed regulations simply cap pollution levels. Some would create a cap-and-trade system. This new report shows that an innovative, market-based fee and dividend system may have the most promise while also boosting the state’s economy.
The study examines the potential economic, demographic, fiscal and emissions impact of eight different alternatives to cut carbon pollution and meet the Federal Clean Power Plan targets. The results make it clear Arkansans will benefit greatly from the CF&D approach.
CF&D would also add $500 million to $1 billion to the economy in the first year alone, and as much as $4 billion over the long term. Households and employers will get a monthly rebate of $200 dollars per month.
The study was done by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), which develops economic models to inform government and corporate decisions. REMI was the firm chosen by the State of Arkansas to model the economic impact analysis of the Big River steel mill in 2013.
“We wanted to use this model, because it is already familiar in Arkansas,” McNamara said. “It’s hard to argue with the results, when the report uses methodology that’s already been accepted in other major development projects.”
CCL members presented the findings to several state agencies. They are working on a campaign to push for the policy during the 2017 legislative session and building public support. You can learn more about CF&D in Arkansas, or learn how to join the campaign at www.arkccl.org.