Douglas County won’t lend its support to a House of Representatives bill that would create a carbon tax.
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019, H.R. 763, was introduced in the House of Representatives in January by Rep. Theodore Deutch, D-Fla. It would create a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund for the American people in order to encourage market-driven innovation of clean energy technologies and market efficiencies that would reduce harmful pollution and leave a healthier and more prosperous nation for future generations.
Several people spoke in favor of the resolution before the County Board.
“I have confidence that many new opportunities will rise in Douglas County as the move away from carbon accelerates,” said Ted Griggs of the Citizens Climate Lobby Chequamegon, which has been working to garner local government support in Northern Wisconsin. “It’s a move that is essential if we’re going to maintain a viable climate and contain the destructive nature of the increasingly large and expensive storms.”
Dave Conley, a former Douglas County supervisor from Lake Nebagamon, said those cost billions of dollars.
“Canada has a carbon tax,” said Kay McKenzie, former supervisor and member of the Land Conservation Committee. “Why can’t we?”
Greg St. Onge of Brule said he was old enough to remember Superior before it had a refinery. Growing up in East End, he said he learned how to skate on Newton Creek, and he and his friends would catch tadpoles and crayfish in the stream.
“I’m sure you’ve all lived here for a while and heard the story where oil and waste from the refinery was poured down Newton Creek,” St. Onge said of the early days of the refinery, before the Clean Water and Clean Air acts in the 1970s brought about change. “It killed everything in the stream, and after the refinery was built, we could no longer skate on Newton Creek.”
However, not everyone who addressed the board was in favor of the proposal that would create a tax on the energy sector because of Douglas County’s reliance on it. Jim Caesar of the Development Association, speaking on behalf of the board and members, said it isn’t a issue for the county.
“We believe that it will hurt our energy sector businesses that provide significant revenue to the county, as well as a significant number of employees,” Caesar said. “We believe this will hurt the consumer. They will be the one footing the bill.”
Supervisor Keith Allen made a motion to postpone indefinitely any decision on a resolution in support of H.R. 763, which garnered the support of most board members in a voice vote.