Minnesota gubernatorial candidate wants a carbon fee & dividend

Rebecca Otto carbon fee and dividend Minnesota race

Rebecca Otto, who is running for governor in Minnesota, includes a carbon fee and dividend plan in her platform.

Minnesota gubernatorial candidate wants a carbon fee & dividend

By Phil Finkelstein

You don’t have to be around CCL for very long before you hear the phrase “Carbon Fee and Dividend.” That’s the revenue-neutral carbon pricing plan we lobby Congress to enact. It puts a steadily rising price on carbon emissions and returns the revenue to American households in the form of a dividend. This would discourage further greenhouse gas emissions, spur innovation in the energy sector, and stimulate the economy by putting money in people’s pockets.

CCL does not stand alone on this front—in addition to the conservative Climate Leadership Council, there are current politicians who support a plan like this. One such politician is Minnesota’s candidate for governor, State Auditor Rebecca Otto. On September 20, she publicly announced her support of a type of carbon fee and dividend plan.

The Minnesota-Powered Plan, as she calls it, has three central features. First, it would set a carbon price at $40 per metric ton, which is calculated to generate $4.45 billion in the first year. The price would increase by 10% each year for 18 years. Of the revenue generated from the carbon price, 75 percent would fund quarterly cash dividends paid out to every Minnesota resident. The dividends would equal “an estimated $600 annually, paid to every Minnesota resident of any age.” More money in the pocket means greater spending power, invigorating the economy.

The other 25 percent of the carbon price revenue would go toward clean energy refundable tax credits, which would be available to every Minnesotan. These tax credits would cover “30 percent of the cost of switching to new and used EV cars, installing solar panels, changing out water heaters, furnaces and air conditioners for heat pumps, and installing triple-pane windows and insulation.” Otto says tens of thousands of new private sector jobs would be created in the process, stimulating the local economy. And as new businesses are established to keep up with demand, she anticipates an increase in wages while living expenses are driven down by the money-saving efficiencies of clean and renewable energy technologies.

Otto’s plan seeks to protect her state from worsening droughts, flooding, severe storms, species decline, and air pollution. She understands that “climate change is affecting us right now in Minnesota.” Her plan has won her the endorsements of climate scientists John Abraham and Michael Mann. She has also gained the support of Paul Douglas, a leading meteorologist and Republican evangelical Christian, who had this to say: “Otto’s revenue-neutral plan to phase out carbon-based fuels, one where every household in Minnesota gets a check, is brilliant.”

At CCL, we’re used to discussing our CF&D plan with public servants once they’re elected—it’s heartening to see a similar plan getting attention as early as the campaign stage. Perhaps this plank of Otto’s platform could signal an upcoming nationwide embrace of a CF&D strategy to prevent the impending climate crisis.

Originally from Vermont, Philip Finkelstein is a recent Political Science graduate from the University of British Columbia. He has a deep passion for writing and desire to bring about meaningful change.

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