The Carbon Pricing and Clean Energy Investment Act bill before the General Assembly has two goals. The first is to create a tax on fossil fuels – coal, oil, natural gas, petroleum – during their first point of entry within the state, which would be $15 per ton of carbon dioxide that would be released by the burning fuel.
The second goal is to use the money collected from the tax to set up the Clean Energy Fund. Money from the fund would be used to coordinate and invest in development research and commercialization of different green practices, including energy storage, wind and solar energy, and “other projects that are deemed to be potentially revolutionary breakthroughs in clean energy technology,” as stated by the bill.
Other uses for the Clean Energy Fund would be paying for the administrative costs associated with collecting the tax, funding programs to assist in the installation of clean energy technology, contributing to a green bank in the state, or investing in public transportation. The fund will also provide dividends to households and businesses for the first two months of 2016, in order to avoid financial harm to them because of the carbon price.
Goldstein-Rose stated that the bill presents a unique opportunity for Rhode Island, because it will make the state one of the frontrunners in addressing climate change.
“Rhode Island can be the first state to pass a carbon pricing bill, catalyzing momentum for other states and national legislation to follow – essentially doing what we did for gay marriage, for clean energy,” he said. “We can also make our state a center for clean energy development and sustainable towns, which we’re already starting to do by being the first state to build an offshore wind farm, and which we can go farther with by passing a carbon pricing bill.”
The bill is being sponsored by Rep. Dan McKiernan and Sen. Walter Felag,. Felag said the bill will be heard in Senate Finance at the end of April.
The information session to be held on Saturday is hosted by the Rhode Island Carbon Pricing and Green Jobs Coalition, which is a group dedicated to making Rhode Island a national leader in reducing carbon pollution, as well as strengthening the local economy. It will take place at 1 pm in room 106 of the Urban Environmental Laboratory at 135 Angell Street in Providence.