5Q: Aaron Regunberg

1 What is carbon pricing?
Carbon pricing is a market-based approach to climate action. Here’s how our legislation works: It places a fee on carbon pollution, paid for by the companies that sell fossil fuels in Rhode Island; 25 percent of the revenue is invested directly into programs to make clean energy and energy efficiency more accessible to all Rhode Islanders; the remainder is returned through an equal per-capita for individuals, or per-employee for businesses rebate.

2 How would it affect residents?
The program will make it easier, and more economically advantageous, for Rhode Islanders to lower their greenhouse gas emissions. The fee-and-rebate design of this policy does two things – first, it protects folks from pass-along costs from fossil fuel companies, and second, it creates an economic incentive to “go green” – because if you use a lot of fossil fuels, you’re paying more into the pot than you’re getting back, and if you use less, you’re getting back more than you put in.

3 How about businesses?
The carbon-pricing policy should have the same effect for businesses as outlined before for residents. It would also have a major economic-development impact. Right now, Rhode Island doesn’t produce any fossil fuels – we’re at the end of the supply chain. That means that every dollar we can transition from out-of-state fossil fuel imports to in-state renewable generation and efficiency is a dollar that … stays in our economy.

4 How is this year’s legislation different from what you proposed last year?
The positive impacts of this policy from a climate and economic perspective will be stronger if more states join us. So, this year, we have worked with legislators in states across New England to propose state bills that share “triggers” saying the law will only go into effect once neighboring states have passed similar policies.

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5 Why do you think you’ll be able to garner the support this year to get it passed?
I’m never overconfident about passage of any of the bills I introduce. But carbon pricing is such a win-win-win. It’s good for our planet and climate, it’s good for our economy and – with the new trigger language – it has no threat of making our state an outlier.