PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island lawmakers are working with environmental advocates to pass legislation that would charge fossil fuel companies for carbon pollution.
Democratic Rep. Aaron Regunberg said Thursday he has introduced legislation to set a fee in Rhode Island of $15 per ton of greenhouse gas emissions. The money would be used for investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency and for rebates for consumers.
Lawmakers and advocates in nine states launched the Carbon Costs Coalition on Wednesday to create a regional carbon pricing system, Regunberg added. The states are Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
“The State of the Union made it even more crystal clear that if we want ambitious climate action, if we want to secure a habitable world for our children, that action isn’t going to be coming out of D.C.,” said Regunberg, a lieutenant governor candidate.
In his State of the Union speech, Republican President Donald Trump declared an end to the “the war on beautiful clean coal.”
According to the Energy Department, coal produces nearly twice as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide per energy created as natural gas. In 2011, coal burning emitted more than 6 million tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, versus 430,000 tons from other energy sources combined.
Carbon tax legislation has stalled in Rhode Island in the past. Some worried Rhode Island would be at a competitive disadvantage if it charged a fee and neighboring states didn’t. The new proposal includes a trigger to put the fee into effect only if neighboring states pass a similar policy.
Democratic state Sen. Jeanine Calkin is sponsoring companion legislation in the Senate. She says having the support of eight other states signals that “we now have regional strength in the shared goal of bold action on climate.”