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Letter: U.S. needs a cap on carbon

With Congress delaying action, North Dakota desperately needs its delegation to step forward with a solution that will give our state the opportunity to thrive while helping solve the problem of climate change.

With its world-class wind energy resource, North Dakota is well positioned to benefit from a new investment in renewable energy resources that would spring from serious effort to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change, leading to jobs and a stronger economy.

What we need is legislation that will also help residents short term as we make the transition to a new energy economy.

The best framework for that solution is the bipartisan "cap and dividend" approach put forward by Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

The Cantwell-Collins Carbon Limits and Energy for American Renewal Act calls for a 100 percent auction of carbon dioxide permits and distribution of 75 percent of the revenue to every legal resident of the country.

The average family of four in North Dakota would receive about $250 more than it would see in increased costs due to the cap, and about 80 percent of North Dakota households would realize a net benefit, according to a University of Massachusetts study.

The other 25 percent of revenues would go to projects that would result in reductions of carbon dioxide emissions, creating new jobs and cash payments for qualifying carbon dioxide mitigation projects, which would benefit landowners.

The CLEAR Act also has the benefit of simplicity and clarity. At 40 pages, it is a fraction of the size of competing plans in Congress. It will prevent the speculative trading in derivative markets that Sen. Dorgan has rightly warned against, and will foster market-based solutions to climate change through a clear market signal on the price of carbon dioxide emissions.

Fossil fuel interests have predictably flooded the media with hysteria over regulating carbon dioxide emissions, and many state leaders have followed suit.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy has submitted a bill to tie the hands of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in fulfilling its obligation to address the dangers climate-changing emissions pose to health and the environment.

These reactions only serve to delay needed action.

We at Dakota Resource Council urge our delegates to work with cap and dividend supporters to make sure their bill is beneficial to all North Dakotans, including family farmers, and then use their influence to get it passed.

Terrence Kardong, Richardton, Dakota Resource Council Clean

Electricity Task Force chairman