Senators Cantwell, Collins Cite New Report: Majority of Americans Would Financially Benefit From Energy Dividend in CLEAR Act

Independent study finds positive impact on states, consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new report from researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst finds that the income of every low and middle income family in America would be protected against any energy price increases under a bipartisan clean energy and job growth bill introduced by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME).


Today, researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst released a new study that finds Sens. Cantwell and Collins’ legislation would result in an economic net benefit for most Americans.  The study, “Clear Economics: State-Level Impacts of the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal Act on Family Incomes and Jobs,” finds that “lower-income households benefit the most, and that middle class households are “made whole” in that their dividends more than offset their costs from higher fuel prices.”


“This study validates one of the CLEAR Act’s key principles, that properly designed climate legislation can fairly distribute economic as well as environmental benefits to every corner of America,” Senator Cantwell said. “We believe Congress will only pass an energy and climate bill that protects American households.  The CLEAR Act is simple, transparent, and equitable solution and should be the Senate’s starting point for tackling one of the greatest challenges facing our nation.”


“Clean energy legislation must protect consumers and industries that could be hit with higher energy prices,” Senator Collins said.  “We must recognize that many of our citizens are struggling just to pay their monthly energy bill and they cannot afford dramatically higher prices.  The results of this study will help reassure the American public that we can accomplish the goal of putting a price on carbon without bankrupting American families and businesses.  I applaud Senator Cantwell’s leadership.  I am delighted to be working with her on this straightforward, effective and fair clean energy bill.”


The Cantwell-Collins Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal (CLEAR) Act, which was introduced in December 2009, would set up a mechanism for selling “carbon shares” to fossil fuel producers and would return most of the resulting revenue in dividends to every American.  Under the legislation, 75 percent of the revenue would be refunded to every individual residing legally in the United States, with 25 percent use for clean energy research and development. The legislation will achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 20 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050.


According to the study’s authors, the economic impact of the Clean Energy Reinvestment Trust (CERT) Fund, which is funded with the remaining 25 percent of carbon permit auction revenues generated under the CLEAR Act, could be distributed in such a way as to offset any differential impacts of the increase in fossil fuel prices between states, by directing more investment to states with higher unemployment and/or greater potential economic dislocations from the shift away from fossil fuels.  They find that the CERT Fund will create roughly 360,000 jobs nationwide.


The full report can be found here.


The Cantwell-Collins CLEAR Act is supported by diverse array of stakeholders, including environmental organizations, key industry players, and consumers groups like the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which says the “CLEAR Act legislation offers a thoughtful, bipartisan approach to reducing harmful carbon dioxide emissions while also mitigating potential energy cost increases to consumers.”


Yesterday, Cantwell and Collins participated in a Bipartisan Policy Center event about the CLEAR Act.  See their remarks here.