Senator Steve Daines correctly said, “… on the issue of climate change, one of the best carbon sinks is a healthy, robust forest. You think about all the carbon emitted in a raging wildfire versus the carbon that’s absorbed from a healthy, managed forest … ” in response to a question from a Yellowstone Public Radio reporter on Jan. 17, 2018. (http://ypradio.org/post/montanas-republican-senator-trumps-salty-language-and-2018-goals#stream/0).
Forest fires emit carbon dioxide. A key finding of the Montana Climate Assessment is: “Forest fires will increase in size, frequency and possible severity in the coming century.” (http://montanaclimate.org)
Why? One reason is that our climate is changing due to global warming caused by our burning of fossil fuels. There is a solution: Transition off fossil fuels onto clean, renewable sources of energy.
Congress can enact the Carbon Fee and Dividend as the best first-step solution. CFD is not a carbon tax. CFD places a fee of $15/ton on the CO2-equivalent emissions of fossil fuels, escalating $10/ton/year, imposed upstream at the mine, well, or entry port. One-hundred percent of the net fees are returned directly to households as a rising monthly dividend (https://citizensclimatelobby.org/basics-carbon-fee-dividend).
Studies show the CFD will inject billions into the economy, protect family budgets, and will reduce CO2 emissions 52 percent below 1990 levels in 20 years, while adding 2-3 million jobs to the economy — all without growing the government. CFD provides us with time to retrain coal miners and change our business/household/farming practices without shocking the economy.
Senators Daines and Tester can help enact the CFD this year. Representative Greg Gianforte can too, and he can also join the House of Representatives bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, which now has 33 Republicans and 33 Democrats, working together to find economic solutions like CFD to mitigate the impacts of our changing climate. (See https://citizensclimatelobby.org/climate-solutions-caucus.)
CFD is our best insurance policy for not just healthy forests, but our farms, rivers, fisheries, wildlife, and Main Street businesses. It has the support of Republicans, like former Secretary of State and Treasury George Shultz.
We need our representatives more than ever now to work together and help stabilize our climate.