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Cotati continues discussion with VP on carbon fee program

By: Katherine Minkiewicz
July 13, 2018

The Cotati City Council met Tuesday to receive and review a written letter to U.S. Vice President, Mike Pence, continuing the discussion of the city’s encouragement of a revenue neutral carbon fee and dividend program, which would help reduce greenhouse gases by imposing an initial $15 per ton fee for CO2 emissions.

Earlier in May the city council unanimously adopted a resolution approving the act of urging Congress to implement a carbon fee and dividend program. With the initial $15 fee per ton of carbon dioxide emitted for each type of fossil fuel by each year the fee would escalate by $10 per ton.

According to the May 8 agenda item report on the program, the department of energy would annually “determine whether an increase larger than $10 per ton per year” would be needed to reach the emission reduction goal of the program.

The goal in mind would be to reduce emissions by 20 percent with the fee with an idea in mind to keep warming below two degrees centigrade.

As reported in the agenda item prepared by City Manager, Damien O’Bid, Regional Economics Model Inc. (REMI), conducted a study in 2013 revealing that a carbon fee and dividend program would reduce CO2 emissions 52 percent below 1990 levels in about 20 years.

It is also believed that, “Recycling the revenue would create an economic stimulus that ads 2.8 million jobs in the economy.”

Whether these projections would come to fruition, the ongoing conversation between the small city of Cotati and the office of the vice president has come to fruition.

After city council sent in their resolution for support of this program, the office of the vice president requested a signed copy of the resolution and during the June 26 city council meeting, Mayor Mark Landman requested the council send in a “thank you” letter to Vice President Pence for his interest in the city’s encouragement of the program.

The letter says, “Thank you for taking an interest in the Revenue Neutral Carbon Fee and Dividend Program, which was supported unanimously by the Cotati City Council at our regular city council meeting… As you know it has been well documented that climate change caused by global warming-related greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2, is already leading to large scale problems including ocean acidification and rising sea levels…”

According to an article by Jacques Leslie in the Los Angeles Times, from 1880 to 2018 the ocean has risen by eight inches. 

Leslie writes, “Thanks to intensifying global warming, from now until 2100, the increase will be a matter of feet, not inches.”

Leslie cites a 2017 report by several state agencies stating under a high-emission scenario, sea levels could rise 3.8 inches or even an apocalyptic 10 inches. That means the Port of Oakland and San Francisco and Oakland airports could be threatened. Cities in the peninsula and even Pt. Reyes could be underwater and the approach lanes from the East Bay could be inundated as reported by the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Even though Cotati wouldn’t be as at risk for flooding, Landman said there are still many impacts people could see if warming continued.

“If you think of the long term impacts it isn’t just limited to flooding. It’s disease, increase in temperature, pests, etc. Flooding is only one of the major impacts,” he said.   

These are a handful of reasons why the carbon fee and dividend program is being backed by municipalities such as Cotati. 

Landman, who is also the vice chair of Sonoma Clean Power, noted in the thank you letter, “We sincerely hope that proposals such as the RFCFDP and other common sense ideas that can create real change will be implemented in the near future.”

Council members showed unanimous support in sending the thank you letter and one Cotati resident said they were glad the city was continuing the dialogue and that it is “good to add all voices.”

The letter to the vice president will be sent shortly following the mayor’s signature.

“We are glad to get the positive feedback from the current administration on environmentalism,” the mayor said with a smile.