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UNITED STATES: Congressman Introduces a Climate Change Bill Involving a small Basic Income

DTE Energy Co.'s coal-fired Monroe Power Plant in Monroe, Michigan, on June 30, 2014

Photograph by Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg

Congressman Chris Van Hollen, (D) Maryland, recently introduced the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2014. If passed, this legislation would guarantee every American a small Basic Income using revenues from the sale of carbon permits.  According to Bloomberg Businessweek, these permits would be auctioned off to carbon emitting industries in the same manner the US government currently auctions off permits for the emission of sulfur dioxide.  The permitting system for sulfur dioxide was instituted in 1990 in response to the increasing impact of acid rain. It is widely credited with dramatic reductions in the release of that pollutant since.

Protecting our Climate and the Middle Class

Because revenues from the sale of permits under the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act would be evenly distributed to every American, this legislation links a basic income to the struggle against global warming in ways past anti-pollution efforts have not.  According to American families stand to receive a dividend regardless of income.  “With an initial auction price of $10/ton of CO2, a median family of four would receive about $640/year and pay about $380 as a result of higher fossil fuel prices, receiving a net benefit of about $260/year.”  The organization projects this payment will grow over time as permits increase in value. also reports a substantial number of environmental organizations have already endorsed the proposal. According to the organization’s statement of support for the legislation 32 groups from around the United States have so far endorsed the bill. This potentially provides an opportunity for basic income advocates to expand support for the BIG concept as well.

For additional information regarding the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2014 please visit one or more of the following websites:

Peter Coy, “Is This How to Sell Americans on Fighting Global Warming?”, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 30, 2014

Congressman Chris Van Hollen, “Van Hollen Introduces the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2014”, Press Releases, July 30, 2014

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, “Protecting Our Climate and the Middle Class”, The Huffington Post, July 30, 2014

Climate and Prosperity, Climate and Consumer Groups Support the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act,, July 30, 2014

About Craig Axford

Craig Axford has written 92 articles.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

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