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Video: Rep. Don Beyer Explains How to Promote Clean Energy, Combat Global Warming, Via Appropriately Pricing CO2 Pollution


See the video below for a great answer by my Congressman, Don Beyer, on how to promote clean energy and combat global warming via putting a price on carbon pollution. As Beyer correctly notes, already the cost of solar power has been plummeting, with “more workers in the solar energy industry…than there are coal miners” in the U.S. today. (note: wind power costs have been falling as well, although not as steeply as solar) Now, we need to continue and accelerate those trends.

Which is where, as Beyer explains, appropriate pricing of carbon pollution via a revenue-neutral cap-and-dividend program, comes in. Under such an arrangement, clean energy’s cost advantage over dirty energy would get even bigger, faster. As for arguments that putting a price on carbon pollution might be regressive, well…it doesn’t have to be the case at all. Instead, as Rep. Beyer explains, “when you give [the money earned from the carbon cap] back per person, it actually becomes PROGRESSIVE, and people on the lower income level get back more than they put in, and only those with the 10,000-foot square house and the boat and the airplane and the really big SUVs are going to put in more money than they get back.” That’s why, Beyer notes, “virtually every economist…from the left to the right believes the best way to manage greenhouse gases is to let market forces do it.”

In the end, Beyer argues (correctly), “if we appropriately price carbon, we make [renewable energy] much more cost-effective relative to carbon-based fuels…we really expect explosions in those industries once we get the price of carbon where it should be.” Not sure what we’re waiting for on this, particularly given the fact that free-market fans should be all for capturing “negative externalities” and correcting for “market failure,” both of which a carbon pollution fee would do.

  • hil2

    Then why is it close to impossible to implement solar and wind in my Fairfax County community, especially if one has trees and cannot even install home solar panels?

    • Starting at the state level, Dominion Power and other fossil fuel interests have ensured that Virginia has some of the worst laws, regulations, incentives, etc. in the country when it comes to clean energy. There could be other issues at the local level, too, although given that this is a strong “Dillon Rule” state, most likely the blame lies more at the state level.

  • hil2

    Lowkell, I do blame our state government. Furthermore, since when do we have to read propaganda masquerading as fact in our newspapers? Yesterday, for instance, on the front-page (A-1), I noticed this piece: FAIRFAX COUNTY TIMES, “Your energy bill could soon go up to help Dominion pay for coal ash clean up” by Bruce Parker, WATCHDOG.ORG courtesy of a right-wing financed organization.
    Unless you take the time to look up WATCHDOG.ORG, the reading community wouldn’t realize that what passes as ‘news’ is actually, opinion and propaganda spun by the fossil fuel industry.The article in “The Times” was taken from this source: http://watchdog.org/269341/coal-ash-regulations-create-wide-ranging-costs-for-power-companies/

  • hil2

    For those of us unfamiliar with VA state law, please enlighten your readers about the Dillon Rule. I’d like to know how many of your readers know how restrictive it can be on local (community) control. What do you see as the pros and cons regarding Virginia?

    • See here for a good explanation:

      Fairfax County operates under the urban county executive form of government, an optional form of Virginia county government, and like other Virginia local governments, Fairfax County has limited powers.

      More specifically, Virginia courts have concluded that local governments in Virginia have only:

      Those powers that are specifically conferred on them by the Virginia General Assembly

      Those powers that are necessarily or fairly implied from a specific grant of authority

      Those powers that are essential to the purposes of government — not simply convenient but indispensable
      This doctrine of limited authority for local governments is commonly called the Dillon Rule, a name that is derived from the writings of John Forest Dillon, who served as a judge, a law professor and an author of legal textbooks in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The Dillon Rule is used in interpreting law when there is a question of whether or not a local government has a certain power. The Dillon Rule narrowly defines the power of local governments. It also states that if there is any reasonable doubt whether a power has been conferred on a local government, then the power has NOT been conferred.

      The Dillon Rule as a concept is found in all states – meaning that apart from the power ceded to the federal government in the U.S Constitution, the state governments have all the remaining governmental authority. However, most states have adopted various types of “home rule” provisions that permit some or all of their local governments to undertake those governmental functions that are not specifically precluded by the laws of those home rule states. Virginia has not provided such home rule authority to its local governments.

      The Virginia Supreme Court and other Virginia courts routinely apply the Dillon Rule to determine whether or not a local government has the legal authority to undertake a disputed action. For well-established county functions, like planning, zoning, and taxation, there are a number of statutes that give the county clear direction and authority to act, but in new areas of governmental concern, the Dillon Rule can serve as a constraint to innovative governmental responses.

      This means that Fairfax County has limited powers in areas such as raising revenue, and it cannot take certain actions without appropriate action from the state, which limits revenue diversification options among other things.

      • hil2

        I have just read the article by the l.w.v. Fairfax,(http://www.lwv-fairfax.org/files/lwv-dillon-dtp-99041.pdf) It seems to me that we, in Northern VA are hog-tied by the strict reading of Dillon’s Rule as a ‘one-size fits all’ approach and gives state legislators, unfamiliar with, or biased against a county, city, or town too much control over what would benefit that locale. Moreover, we, as a local community cannot come up with creative solutions, e.g. solar, wind, geothermal options, can benefit the taxpaying public.

        • Correct. I’ve been saying for years that strict Dillon Rule is one of the major problems we face in Virginia in getting anything progressive done.

          • hil2