Category: Carbon Pollution Fee

What is our campaign for Carbon Pollution Fee and Rebate?

CAN-logo-finalWe’re working to make Massachusetts one of the first states in the Nation to pass a fair price on carbon. We’re members of the Massachusetts Campaign for a Clean Energy Future, a coalition of environmental, business, labor, and civic organizations that are working to insure that carbon pricing policies reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the Massachusetts economy, protect vulnerable populations, and are fair to households, businesses, and institutions.

The 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act committed our State to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020; but right now we’re not on track to hit that target. There’s a simple way to get on track: put a fair price on carbon dioxide emissions. That way we can preserve our environment and strengthen our economy.
Economists agree that a carbon fee and rebate is an efficient way to reduce emissions. It works like this: the state adds a fee to every ton of greenhouse gas emitted. This fee raises the price of polluting and encourages everyone to shift to cleaner energy sources, without complicated regulations. Instead of keeping the money, the state returns most or all of it to us, the taxpayers. That keeps the economy healthy. The state can also set aside a portion of the money to do things like encourage clean energy, build green infrastructure, or repair public transportation, all of which create more jobs. Other countries have done this. For example, the Canadian province of British Columbia introduced an economy-wide carbon fee and rebate program in 2008. Since the program started, emissions in B.C. have dropped by 16%, while rising by 3% elsewhere in Canada. Since 2008, B.C.’s economy has also grown faster than the rest of Canada.
If Massachusetts puts in fair carbon pricing, we would be among the first states to do so. As in many other policies, we would be a model for the rest of the nation to follow. Two carbon fee and rebate bills have already been proposed in the legislature this session, by Senator Michael Barrett and Representative Jennifer Benson. Read on to see how you can help turn these into law.

Click here to find info on Carbon Pricing for Farmers 

Have you heard of Carbon Pollution Fee and Rebate? It’s an important part of the climate solution puzzle!
































































You can download or look at a clear .PDF version of this document HERE


Sample Carbon Pricing letter to Gov Baker

Action alert!  Feb 2016.

Use this letter as-is, or edit to your liking, or just take inspiration. Thank you!

Massachusetts State House
Office of the Governor
Room 280
Boston, MA 02133


Dear Governor Baker,


I am writing to ask you to take the next step in the history of bold, bipartisan environmental leadership in Massachusetts by supporting a market-based strategy to reduce global warming pollution.


As you know, through the Global Warming Solutions Act, the State of Massachusetts is committed to reducing our overall emissions of global warming pollution in proportion to what the scientific evidence indicates is necessary to protect our climate from global warming, including a cut of 25% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050. Unfortunately, Massachusetts is not currently on pace to achieve these mandates, and stronger policies are needed, especially in areas such as heating and transportation.


One of the reasons we are running behind on our mandates is because the state has yet to fully embrace market-based solutions to address climate emissions. A broad range of economists and policy experts from across the ideological spectrum have long recognized that the most efficient and effective way to reduce climate pollution is through carbon pricing policies that unleash the power of the free market to solve environmental challenges. While Massachusetts has adopted a successful market-based program in the electricity sector through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, we have yet to adopt any market-based strategy to reduce emissions in other sectors. Market based programs include both direct fees on emissions that can be rebated back to consumers as well as emissions trading systems.


Carbon pricing systems work because they require polluters to take responsibility for their emissions, creating an economic incentive to invest in clean energy and efficiency. Real world examples of carbon pricing systems, such as British Columbia’s revenue-neutral carbon tax, and the emissions trading systems of California and the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, demonstrate that carbon pricing can reduce emissions while creating jobs, growing our economy and protecting consumers.


Moreover, economic analysis done by the state of Massachusetts has demonstrated a market-based solution can be good for our economy, good for poor and middle class consumers, and good for jobs.  As a state with no fossil fuel reserves of our own, reducing our reliance on imported oil and gas and building our clean energy sector is both strong economic policy and strong environmental policy.


We urge you to consider supporting a market-based strategy to reduce emissions and incorporating a plan to put a price on carbon emissions into your plan to achieve the state’s climate mandates.


Thank you,


XX, from X organization, resident of X Town


Northampton Democratic City Committee Passes Carbon Pricing Resolution

On Saturday, May 16, at its annual meeting, the Northampton Democratic City Committee unanimously endorsed a resolution calling on the Massachusetts legislature to pass a carbon fee and rebate bill to cut emissions by placing a state fee on fossil fuel energy entering the state. An important aspect of this resolution is that it supports both carbon pricing bills currently in the legislature. This is consistent with the statewide coalition of environmental, community, labor and business groups which is seeking at this point in time to build broad support for the concept of carbon pricing. Members and affiliates of the coalition, named the MA Campaign for a Clean Energy Future, have obtained endorsements from 15 town committees. The coalition is seeking support from both Democratic and Republican organizations.

The resolution reads:
“We, the Northampton Democratic City Committee, urge the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to pass legislation that combats climate change by placing charges on the carbon content of fossil fuels and returns the money to residents and employers. Specifically, we commend State Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) for drafting and submitting, ‘An Act Combating Climate Change’ and Sen. Marc Pacheco for drafting and submitting ‘An Act to Protect Our Environment and Reduce the Carbon Footprint of the Commonwealth.’  We strongly encourage our State Senators and Representatives, and our Governor, to make carbon pricing the law of our state.”

Marty Nathan: It ought to be a law, and can: carbon fee and rebate

Marty Nathan, a member of  Climate Action Now,  is a regular contributor to the Gazette opinion pages. Here is her most recent column:

By MARTY NATHAN in the Hampshire Daily Gazette  Thursday, April 23, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — Most of the climate news from the oceans and the Arctic and California has been grim, with changes occurring around the world even faster than climate scientists had predicted.

But this month, as my mixed-religious family prepared to celebrate Passover and Easter, the two holidays of hope, there was a glimmer of optimism that we might be able to transform our society into a sustainable one. The first was President Obama’s vow, made in the lead-up to the coming Paris conference on climate change, that the United States would cut carbon emissions by 28 percent over the next decade. This was not new news: It had first been uttered following negotiations with China last year. The fact that the Administration has stuck with it, though, shows a spine that has way-too-often been lacking in Washington. And 28 percent is not enough, but it is a portal to deeper cuts, to the 80 percent needed by 2050 to prevent the worst-case climate scenario — global warming beyond 2 degrees Celsius with its companion sea level rise, droughts (of which California’s is only a preview) and tipping points to exponentially increasing carbon release.

The second event to be celebrated was the completion of the Iran nuclear agreement, limiting the chance of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and decreasing world tensions. What has that to do with the environment or climate change? A lot. Nuclear energy, weapons and waste are a huge threat regionally, but this agreement encourages a negotiated settlement in the Middle East and throughout the world. And absolutely nothing is more damaging to the environment (let alone humans) than war.

Hope means little in the long run if it does not inspire further commitment to the hard work awaiting us. We must build the institutional structures that will cut carbon emissions quickly. One of the most important climate tasks we in Massachusetts can tackle to propel us to and beyond that 28 percent emissions reduction will be to create a carbon fee and rebate system in the state. What is it and why do we need it?

A carbon fee and rebate system puts a price on oil, natural gas and coal coming into our state. That price is based on the pollution cost of burning it and is paid by the limited number of distributors that send the fuel to the places where it is resold or burned. That added fee is then passed on to consumers at the pump, the electric and gas meter, our oil company bill and products made using this energy.

Why do it? Because increased cost decreases use. To stop climate change (and health-destructive air pollution) we must burn less fossil fuel. People find alternatives — they turn the thermostat down in winter and up in summer. They walk or take the bus, invest in solar if they can, hang out the wash and insulate the house, even when there are not programs to support such energy-conserving choices, much more so when those choices are offered, promoted and subsidized.

It works. It has been adopted in scores of countries around the world and, in one of the best-studied examples, Canada’s British Columbia province, its adoption was associated with a 16 percent drop in emissions over seven years when Canada’s overall emissions rose by 3 percent.

But isn’t it an economy-destroying tax? Well, you can call it a tax if you want but it is more like a user’s fee. At present, big polluters are using our atmosphere as a free dump for a toxic product, in a manner that is destroying our future. Perhaps they should pay for that, which is jeopardizing our health and ecosystem. It is our collective responsibility to stop the abuse of something that belongs to all of us.

Doesn’t it hit those most financially at risk: poor homeowners, renters and low-wage workers having to pay more to travel to their jobs, those for whom transportation, heat and electricity costs are a greater proportion of their budgets?

No. In fact, low- and middle-income people come out ahead in the plan adopted in British Columbia and proposed for Massachusetts. That is because there is an upfront rebate, an equal amount to each adult that, unless you make more than $70,000 a year, more than compensates for the loss in fees. Those who burn the least fuel make out best.

What about the “economy-destroying” business? In the years since the institution of the fee and rebate, British Columbia’s economy has grown faster than that of the rest of Canada. In part that is because a fraction of the fee has been used to offer those sustainable choices — building mass transit, expanding solar, hydro and wind energy and conservation.

Two bills are before the Massachusetts Legislature to establish a carbon fee and rebate system, filed by Sens. Marc R. Pacheco and Michael J. Barrett. Forty-three lawmakers have signed on, including state Reps. Peter Kocot and Ellen Story. That gives us more hope. Let’s build on it.

Marty Nathan, M.D., is a physician at Baystate Brightwood Health Center and a member of Climate Action NOW. She lives in Northampton.

350 Mass Organizes to Support Fair Carbon Pricing Legislation

On Saturday, March 28, ten Fair Carbon Pricing organizers from around the state met in Worcester. There were three important outcomes. First, the group decided to officially join the MA Carbon Pricing Coalition. Second, the group determined who would work to enlist the support of the high-priority legislators. Third, the group agreed to an approach for organizing legislative action across 350Mass campaigns. Equally important, there was a great deal of new information and thoughtful analysis that was shared throughout the meeting.

Joining the Coalition: Why did 350 Massachusetts need to join the Coalition when The Better Future Project was already a member? Here’s why. 350 Massachusetts is a volunteer organization supported by professional Better Future Project staff. These staffers facilitate meetings and provide administrative support, but 350 Massachusetts decisions are made by its volunteers, not by staffers.  In a nutshell, 350 Massachusetts volunteers have been organizing around carbon pricing without yet having a “seat at the Carbon Pricing Coalition table.” On March 28th we decided to join.

Why was this important? Simply put, operating independently from the Coalition has blocked us from learning about the research and polling behind Coalition decisions and to weigh in on those decisions.

For example, we learned on Saturday that there’s some MA and VT survey data showing that in some polls and focus groups, people preferred policies that invested revenues in clean energy and transportation programs compared to “revenue neutral” policies that returned all the revenues. Those familiar with the polling explained the reasons behind the results. It turns out that some people are suspicious of revenue-neutral and they don’t understand the economics behind it. They’ll say things like “Why tax my money and then just return all you’ve taken?” But, they do favor carbon pricing when it’s linked to clean energy programs. (For more on polling, see the Postscript at the end of this article.)

At the March 28th meeting, we also learned that the revenue-neutral option, while predicted by the DOER study to lead to job growth, was also predicted to produce some job loss in certain industries, specifically Warehousing & Transportation, Construction, Manufacturing, Utilities, and State & Local Government. These industries are mostly unionized, and so a revenue-neutral bill could expect some opposition from organized labor. Conversely, labor representatives have been polled and they support carbon pricing if revenues are allocated to weatherization, transportation, and solar programs. Furthermore, the Coalition is starting to discuss innovative and holistic approaches such as a Green Infrastructure Bank that would provide low-interest loans and loan guarantees.

The Coalition still hasn’t taken a position on the “revenue-neutral” issue and is at this point supporting both bills. We’re glad that now we have a seat at the table to participate in these discussions.

Node Assignments: In our second meeting task, we mapped 15 high-priority legislators to the 350 Mass nodes that match their districts. (These 15 are the five senators and ten representatives who are considered to have the most influence on whether or not a carbon pricing bill will be made into MA law, and who aren’t on record yet as endorsing one of the bills.) Every Node’s assignments have been added to the spread sheet written about below. We will also work with Democratic and Republican Town Committees plus other civic and religious organizations and local activists to provide education about carbon pricing and build support.

Here is the link to the spreadsheet.

Integrating the Campaigns to Influence Legislation: A few weeks ago, Alexander Gard-Murray, a grad student from the Cambridge node developed a spreadsheet showing which legislators had endorsed the carbon pricing bills. We in the Pioneer Valley have been thinking about how to best use that tool. On March 28 we collaborated with Alexander to present our ideas and they were accepted. Perhaps more importantly, the tool has inspired us to integrate legislative action across all three campaigns – Divestment, ReNEWable Mass, and Fair Carbon Pricing. We’ll say more about that in a future article.

Here is the link to the spreadsheet.

Postscript: After the meeting, we learned about a University of Michigan study that found 70% of Democrats and 51% of Republicans support carbon pricing “with revenue used for research and development for renewable energy programs.” Support drops to 65% Democrats and 43% Republicans when “…revenue-neutral carbon pricing has revenues returned to public via rebates.” When revenue use is not specified, it’s 47% / 15%. Posting these results prompted a constructive exchange in our Carbon Pricing Google group, with one member noting that “we really need to do a good job explaining the concept of how rebates will spur R&D in a market – based way, without the government picking winners and losers;” while another pointed out that “it’s a great thing that [this poll shows that]the public supports more spending on clean energy….Is it better to meet the public where they are at, or better to spend a ton of energy and effort educating the public to get them to understand something [revenue-neutral] that they don’t yet understand?” For now, my view is, let’s get a better understanding of the carbon-pricing polling research and use that broader understanding to inform our views and decisions! There are probably a bunch of studies out there, and over the next few weeks I’ll try to find some of them and include a summary in a future newsletter article.

Dave Roitman,, 413 535 7173