April 21, 2021

Energy Innovation Bill Can Help Mitigate Unwelcome Trend of Climate Change

To the Editor:

As we in Princeton observe the 51st anniversary of Earth Day this week, the issue of climate change continues to be an existential threat to our global environment. And New Jerseyans should be especially concerned about the warming trend because, according to experts (such as Rutgers University climate scientist Anthony Broccoli, and David Robinson the N.J. state climatologist), our state is one of the two fastest-warming in the Lower 48.

Relating this alarming but abstract fact to our local lived experience, I wondered: when was the last time it was safe to ice skate outdoors in Princeton on natural ice? We remember some lovely winters past, when the town turned out to glide long distances on Lake Carnegie. But — despite all that snow this winter — it turns out that our most recent opportunity to skate on the lake was six years ago. In an April 7 post, the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University featured a study project by undergraduate Grace Liu, investigating the question, “Is Lake Carnegie Showing a Climate Trend?” The conclusion: yes. With impressively thorough original research (including in the archives of Town Topics) Liu, working with advisors at the High Meadows Environmental Institute, found a clear historic pattern of decreasing ice on our local lake, as the average winter temperature in N.J. has gradually risen.

Here is a tangible local effect of climate change in our town. What can we do politically to mitigate this unwelcome trend? Fortunately, the current presidential administration is planning to take action on climate change in many ways. And all of these strategies can be bolstered by adding in one most effective measure: placing a fee on carbon that is collected and returned to households. This pricing clearly signals to the market that fossil fuel burning must decrease, while the rebate protects individual consumers against rising energy costs. There is now a bill in the House of Representatives to accomplish this: the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, H.R. 2307, which has 41 cosponsors already — including two NJ Representatives. I’m grateful to our Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman for having co-sponsored its predecessor bill in the last Congress, and hope that she will soon re-join these colleagues to co-sponsor the current Energy Innovation bill.

Carbon pricing is popular, as is outdoor ice skating, so let’s support both!

Caroline (Callie) Hancock
Volunteer, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Princeton Chapter
Laurel Road