EnergizeRI and our carbon pricing proposal have recently come under attack from the Heartland Institute. We are taking this opportunity to reach out, set the record straight and shed some light on the work and reputation of this group as you consider their comments on carbon pricing legislation here in Rhode Island.
The Heartland Institute claims it was created to “discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems”. However, upon review of the organization’s body of work, it is clear they operate on a platform of climate change denial. In fact, the organization is well known as one of the nation’s leading climate change deniers.
They are funded by groups such as the Koch Brothers, Big Tobacco, and Exxon Mobile. The only thing that Heartland seems to promote is misinformation.
This is the same group that included scientists on a list of “climate deniers” even after they claimed they were being misrepresented and asked to be removed. This is the same group that to this day denies the link between secondhand smoke and cancer, claiming “smoking in moderation has few, if any, adverse health effects“. This is the same group that erected a billboard of the Unabomber with the caption “I still believe in global warming, do you?” and called it a success.
Heartland’s interest is clearly not in “finding and promoting ideas that empower people” as they claim but instead to allow their funders to manipulate credible sources and scientific facts. They manipulate the public to their own benefit and operate without repercussions.
To be very clear, we here at EnergizeRI are proud to have a group like the Heartland Institute as a critic. We are even prouder to share that distinction with people like Pope Francis and President Obama.
There are legitimate debates to be had about the best way to address climate change, but pretending it isn’t happening or that we are powerless to stop it helps no one. We are already seeing the effects of climate change here in our state. No Rhode Islander will deny the damage that was caused by Hurricane Sandy in Westerly and Charlestown. No one can deny the damage caused by the microbursts in Cranston or the severe flooding witnessed in Warwick. All over the state Rhode Islanders are dealing with the fallout and leading climate scientists believe it will only get worse. Climate change denial is no longer part of the national conversation and it should not be part of the policy debate here in Rhode Island.
All studies completed on our proposal to this point have shown that Carbon Pricing would create, not reduce jobs. The EnergizeRI Act is projected to add about 2,000 new jobs in the first few years alone and about 4,000 in total. The reasons for this are fairly simple. Rhode Islanders spend about three billion dollars a year to import the fossil fuels we use for our energy needs. The reality is that, every year, Rhode Islanders’ money is being sent to strengthen someone else’s economy. Think about that missed opportunity – three billion dollars that could be circulating in our local communities, that could be spent in our stores, that could be invested in our homes, that could create revenue for our state.
The EnergizeRI Act would create a new “Clean Energy and Jobs Fund” to make renewable energy and energy efficiency installations cheaper and more accessible to small businesses and low-income homes. By focusing more on energy efficiency and local renewable energy production, Rhode Island could keep a greater portion of those three billion dollars from flying off to Texas or Saudi Arabia and instead put those dollars to work strengthening our local economy. The choice between a strong economy and a safe environment is a false one. We can have both.
Finally, carbon pricing is recognized worldwide as one of the most effective emissions reductions tools. Seventy-four countries, 23 subnational jurisdictions, and more than 1,000 companies and investors expressed support for a price on carbon ahead of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit. Locally, the REMI study estimates that carbon pricing, as proposed in the EnergizeRI Act, would get us halfway to the Resilient RI goals all on its own. Carbon pricing is an effective tool at both saving our environmental and strengthening our economy.
That’s why it’s so crucial that groups like Heartland not be allowed to control our future. We only have a small window to commit to bold action to fight climate change. Every minute that we spend listening to their misinformation just slows down our government taking the necessary steps and makes the consequences of our inaction more severe. We can’t allow that to happen.
Right now Heartland is requesting private meetings with our representatives. It’s important that they know the truth about who they are dealing with. Sign the petition and tell our elected officials that groups like Heartland have no place in conversations about our future.
Additional information about the EnergizeRI Act is available at EnergizeRI.org