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Dear Editor,

State Senator Tom Brewer is right. He is right that we must protect Nebaska’s Sandhills. He’s right that we shouldn’t trample on people’s quality of life. And he is right that we don’t want to kill a bunch of whooping cranes. But in the end it won’t matter being right on those issues since he is wrong in never mentioning or considering or actually doing anything to address climate change. We must act on climate change or the issues he is fighting for will be lost anyway. We have to do both. We have to stop pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, and we have to do it in a way that re-spects the land, our neighbors, and our way of life.

There is a way to do this. The best first step is to support the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA) now in Congress. This bill puts the free market to work by putting a price on the problem - CO2. Just as Senator Brewer is so mindful of the potential damage that wind turbines and power lines could do to the Sandhills, he and I and everyone else must also be mindful of the damage that carbon dioxide is doing to our climate system.

Every time I make a pot of coffee with coal-fired electricity, and every time I drive to work, I’m dumping my CO2 garbage on my neighbors, and on their children and grandchildren. Under cur-rent law, I pay nothing for the harm I am causing them. I get the gain and they feel the pain. It’s kind of like ramrodding a power line across your neighbors land without giving them any say in the matter.

With the EICDA, our dirty energy choices will have financial consequences. When I make that cup of coffee, it will cost me more because the coal mine charged NPPD more to cover the carbon fee that they paid based on the CO2 content of the coal. Likewise, all carbon-based en-ergy will become more expensive due to the carbon fee. The beautiful part is that this is not a tax. The fees collected do not go to the government. Instead, the money is divided equally be-tween all households in the country in a monthly dividend payment which people may spend as they choose. Roughly 60% of Americans will receive as much or more money in their dividend payments than they spend on increased energy costs. As the carbon fee slowly rises, individuals and businesses will gradually turn away from expensive climate-damaging energy and turn to-wards cheaper clean energy. We will be making decisions that are not only good for our pocket books but also good for our neighbors and our descendents as we stop irresponsibly dumping our carbon dioxide garbage on them.

Senator Brewer, thank you for your efforts in protecting the Sandhills. As we transition to a car-bon-free energy future, we must not trample on that which we wish to save. But we must make that transition, or you will have saved nothing. Please endorse the EICDA and promote this bill with your fellow state senators, Congressman Adrian Smith, and Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse.

For more information, visit energyinnovationact.org. Also, attend the “Nebraska Climate Conver-sations” conference Friday, March 30 at the University of Nebraska, Kearney, organized by stu-dents from UNL and UNK along with Nebraska Citizen’s Climate Lobby volunteers. Join the dis-cussion and forge the way forward with our State Climatologist and Nebraska business and agri-culture leaders.

Steve Welch

Chadron - Citizen’s Climate Lobby

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