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California to Congress: Tax carbon, give revenue to households

California Capitol

F O R   I M M E D I A T E   R E L E A S E

August 23, 2016 – California is sending a message to Washington: It’s time to address climate change by taxing carbon, but in way that prevents economic hardship for American households.

The California State Senate voted Tuesday to approve a joint resolution calling on Congress and the President to enact a carbon-based tax on fossil fuels and return all the proceeds to middle- and low-income Americans. Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 43, introduced by Assembly member Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara), passed the California State Assembly on June 30. The Senate passed AJR 43 by a vote of 22 to 15.

“We’re very gratified that the California legislature has passed this resolution urging Congress to enact a revenue-neutral fee on carbon. This is a tremendous endorsement for a policy that Citizens’ Climate Lobby has long viewed as the most efficient and effective means for reducing carbon pollution while strengthening our economy,” said Mark Reynolds, executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a national advocacy organization based in Coronado, CA.

On Aug. 10, at a Senate Governance and Finance Committee hearing regarding the resolution, thirty-five Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) volunteers from across the state traveled to Sacramento to voice their support for the carbon fee and dividend plan proposed by AJR 43. After testimony by resolution author Das Williams and by CCL volunteers Jerry Hinkle and Kathy Orlinsky, the Senate committee passed the resolution, sending it to the full Senate.

“I am proud to have been able to work on and pass this resolution urging the federal government to adopt a carbon-tax and dividend program,” Williams said.  “This is a needed program to reduce CO2 emissions and help mitigate climate change, which has become the biggest moral issue of our age.  We must leave this planet inhabitable for our children and grandchildren, so we must act now.”

The tax, as proposed by the legislature, would be revenue-neutral, meaning it does not increase the size of government, and would employ market-based incentives rather than government regulations and subsidies. A study commissioned by CCL predicts that, after 10 years, a revenue-neutral carbon tax would lead to a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions of 33 percent, an increase in national employment of 2.1 million jobs, and an average monthly dividend for a family of four of $288.

The study, conducted by Regional Economic Models, Inc., examined a tax on the carbon-dioxide content of fossil fuels. The tax would start low at $10 per ton, increasing at $10 per ton each year. Revenue from the tax would be returned to households in equal shares as direct payments. Under this approach, the REMI study found that recycling the revenue back into the economy over 10 years would add jobs and save 13,000 lives a year by improving air quality and reducing emissions.

Contact: Steve Valk, 404.769.7461,


Steve Valk is Communications Coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby. Steve joined the CCL staff in 2009 after a 30-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter at @valklimate.