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07/19/2019

Town endorses adoption of national carbon-fee-and-dividend system

Cape Elizabeth has joined at least six other Maine communities that are endorsing a nationwide fee on carbon-intensive products, with dividends from the fee to be returned to the American people.

The Town Council on July 8, 2019 adopted a resolution calling for Congress to enact a carbon-fee-and-dividend system, such as the one proposed in the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives in January.

The bill, according to its description on congress.gov, would create a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund for the American people, "in order to encourage market-driven innovation of clean energy technologies and market efficiencies which will reduce harmful pollution and leave a healthier, more stable, and more prosperous nation for future generations."

The town endorsement was requested by Cape Elizabeth members of the Citizens' Climate Lobby, an organization focused on national policies to address climate change. The lobby's Portland chapter is one of 541 local chapters nationwide.

Leighton Farms Road resident Nina Trowbridge, her son, Robbie, and Stonegate Road resident Susan Payne first addressed the council in May, which prompted a referral to the Energy Committee and resulted in that committee's recommendation for a full council endorsement.

The resolution does not obligate the town to anything, said Chairman Jamie Garvin. "The real value that the town is providing here is our voice," he said.

"I think as we've all heard through review of the Comprehensive Plan draft in the last several months ... as a coastal community I think this is something that should be of paramount concern to us," Garvin said.

For Cape resident Robbie Trowbridge, it was a recent conference of the Citizens' Climate Lobby that brought the international crisis home. Using a Google Earth tool that predicts the level of seawater by the year 2100, "I found Cape Elizabeth and the result stunned me," Robbie said at the council's meeting on May 13. "Spurwink and 77 both go underwater when they cross the marsh. 'Cape Care' is nearly submerged. Crescent Beach and Kettle Cove are both underwater. The water nearly reaches Hannaford Field from the marsh," he said.

However, "I'm not here to complain about what Cape Elizabeth might be like in the near future ... I'm here because the Citizens' Climate Lobby has a bill in Congress that could seriously slow climate change and it needs support."

The lobby has advocated for a carbon-fee-and-dividend system for nearly a decade, according to its website. H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act introduced in January, embodies the approach and is now being advocated by the Citizens' Climate Lobby.

As of July 19 six other Maine communities – Portland, Bangor, Brunswick, Fairfield, Harpswell and Vinalhaven – were listed among 131 municipalities nationwide that have adopted a carbon-fee-and-dividend resolution.

"I think there are a lot of issues that are national or global, that we often sit and wonder, 'well what can we as a little community do about this,' and I think this is something tangible that we can actually do," said Chairman Garvin. "The value is really raising our voice on this, so I'm happy to support (the resolution)," Garvin said.

One of the Town Council's goals for the last several years has been to support a sustainable community.