State Level Carbon Pricing Outreach
State Level Efforts Background
CCL’s primary goal is the adoption of strong, effective carbon pricing by the US Congress, ideally carbon fee and dividend. State level policies can help us achieve our national goal.
Alexis Hermosillo, CCL’s State Carbon Pricing Coordinator works with interested volunteers to bring CCL’s effectiveness and grassroots power to state-level carbon pricing campaigns. One way to find out more is to join the State Carbon Taxes Action Team.
In most cases, CCL volunteers are already deeply engaged with these efforts, often playing key roles these organizations. CCLers are encouraged to reach out to their local state organizations for information on how to get involved.
Strategic Goals for of CCL’s State-Level Policy Work
The strategic goals that should be considered when deciding whether to join a state policy campaign are:
- Pressure and/or cover for federal legislators to take bolder action.
- Pressure and/or cover for important advocacy groups to take a bolder federal advocacy position.
- Growing the diversity of the movement calling for strong climate legislation.
- As that movement grows, being open to opportunities for endorsements/statements of support for federal legislative priorities.
- Build bipartisan support for climate action.
CCL's State-Level Criteria
How does CCL determine whether to support a particular state-level policy? CCL supports climate policies or resolutions efforts that meet five criteria:
- Aligns with our Strategic goals (above).
- They are designed to be effective at reducing GHG emissions beyond existing policies.
- They will protect low income households from price increases.
- They are politically viable for the state.
- They will harmonize with a federal Carbon Fee and Dividend and other state carbon pricing.
State-level efforts have been underway across the country including in a number of states you might find surprising. Massachusetts-based ClimateXChange is managing the State Carbon Pricing Network which provides resources to carbon pricing groups and catalogs information on the various efforts underway.
Bills have already been submitted in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, New York, Oregon, California, and Utah, Virginia, New Mexico, Vermont, Maine, and more.
Policies vary from state to state as the political, economic, and legal environment vary. Some states have restrictions on how fees can be collected or how taxes must be allocated (e.g., fuel taxes must go to highway funds). Since states can’t easily do border adjustments, they must use other systems if they want to provide a level playing field for businesses in other states and prevent ‘emissions leakage’ when businesses shift production to other states where there is not a carbon tax.
Most states are focused on a carbon tax with the exception of Oregon and California, which have been considering a cap and trade program. Some of the bills are revenue-neutral, often including some form of dividend, while others include at least some reinvestment of revenue, generally into climate related programs.
CCL volunteers can bring some key experience to these efforts, since most of what we know about building political will and building relationships can apply at the state-level as well. We know how to work with the media. We know how to lobby elected officials and build relationships with them and their staff. We know how to build and demonstrate grassroots support on climate. We are learning how to engage community leaders and business leaders to seek endorsements and build their support for climate action. All of this can apply at every level of our government.
In some states, significant work has already been done in building coalitions with potential allies, in crafting policy, and in building relationships with legislators and other stakeholders. In others, this work is just beginning. You will find, though, that the political climate of each state is different and the key stakeholders are different. For instance, in a state that leans Democratic you might not find the same insistence on revenue neutrality that you might find in a more Republican state. In states without a big extractive economy you may find different dynamics from one where a lot of fossil fuels are produced. It can be important not to come in to state level work with too many assumptions and to start by taking time to understand the political landscape.
CCL’s goal is to provide support to these efforts as we are able, and to be a catalyst for effective carbon pricing efforts. In turn we hope those efforts will provide us an additional point of leverage as we push towards our goal of a federal carbon fee and a healthy climate.
Join the State Carbon Taxes Action Team.