Letter: County Board should support Carbon Dividend Act

The Douglas County Board voted last month to “postpone indefinitely” consideration of a resolution supporting HR 763, a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would put a fee on all sources of carbon fuels and give the collected funds back to American households to spend as they choose.

Bayfield and Ashland county boards voted recently to support such a resolution, as did the cities of Bayfield, Washburn and Ashland.

The Douglas County Board, according to its mission statement, has an obligation to represent its constituents by preparing for the county’s future. But one might question whether their vote to cut off discussion of the resolution at their recent meeting — a vote that was not close to being unanimous — truly reflects the longterm interests of Douglas County, given the tremendous costs associated with repairing roads, bridges, streets, culverts, shorelines, parks and more resulting from the huge rain storms that are becoming more common.

Such rain storms are only one of the threats posed by a changing climate. Damaged infrastructure is only one of the consequences.

The Douglas County Board will be in good company if it decides to consider supporting HR 763 and then holds a vote. In addition to the counties and cities in Wisconsin and across the country that have already voted to do so, 27 Nobel laureates in economics, from both ends of the political spectrum, support the carbon fee and dividend approach as the only way to effectively slow the world’s use of carbon fuels, convert efficiently to cleaner energy sources and combat climate disasters.


The 2009 Nobel laureate in economics, Oliver Williamson, was born and raised in Douglas County. Richard Bong, the top American fighter pilot ace in World War II and winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, was born and raised in Douglas County.

Douglas County has long contributed to the strength of Wisconsin and America by supplying great minds, great courage, great workers and great skill.

Protecting our planet, our country and our state from climate change will require all four of those attributes, plus one more: great leadership.

The Douglas County Board would do well by the people it represents simply by discussing and voting on the resolution to support HR 763. Vote it up or vote it down, but go on the record, as so many other cities and counties across America have done.

Delaying serious action to fight climate change has led the world to its current predicament, just as nations worldwide, by delaying action in confronting a growing menace before WW II, delivered the world into years of mayhem and carnage that might have been made significantly less destructive.

Richard Bong and many Douglas County men and women like him didn’t “postpone indefinitely” taking action in the face of a global threat, once America entered World War II. There was no guarantee of victory then, and there isn’t now, but to shirk the responsibility of facing the threat is a sure guarantee of defeat.

What To Read Next
Get Local