Congressman Chris Van Hollen

Representing the 8th District of Maryland

FACT SHEET: The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2014

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, with CO2 levels in the atmosphere reaching 400 parts per million in 2013 for the first time in human history.  Over 97 percent of climate scientists agree that our planet is warming, primarily as a result of fossil fuel combustion, and that this warming is already causing more frequent, dangerous, and expensive extreme weather events.  Left unchecked, climate change will become increasingly disruptive to future generations. 

At the same time, our nation’s middle class is struggling.  While the productivity of our economy increased by 75 percent between 1979 and 2012, wage growth for middle class workers increased by only 5 percent during the same period.  In a recent poll, 85 percent of self-described middle class adults said it is more difficult now than it was a decade ago to maintain their standard of living.

Fortunately, there is a simple, fair, and effective way to tackle climate change while strengthening the middle class.  It’s called the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2014.

Specifically, the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2014:

  • Uses a declining cap to reduce CO2 emissions to 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050

  • Auctions carbon permits to the first sellers of oil, coal, and natural gas into the U.S. market

  • Returns 100 percent of auction proceeds to every American with a valid Social Security number in the form of a Healthy Climate Dividend

  • Includes robust border adjustment protections to ensure U.S. companies are not disadvantaged when competing against foreign competitors at home or abroad

  • Achieves additional greenhouse gas emissions reductions through the Clean Air Act and other relevant authorities

By capping carbon emissions, selling permits, and returning the resulting revenue to everyone equally, this “Cap and Dividend” approach achieves the greenhouse gas reductions climate scientists tell us we need to prevent the dangerous consequences of climate change while boosting the purchasing power of American consumers. On an economy-wide level, the price signal placed on carbon pollution will accelerate innovation and incentivize both greater energy efficiency as well as greater use of lower-carbon energy alternatives.  And on a household level, the more families are able to reduce their carbon footprint, the more they stand to gain financially.

The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2014 says to every American: “We’re all in this together.  We can solve our problems and move everyone forward at the same time.” That’s America at its best.  For our families and our country, that’s exactly where we need to be.