Two of the most pressing issues facing us today are the need to address the economic costs and public health risks associated with climate change and strengthening the middle class.

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. At the same time, our 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.

I support the EPA’s carbon rule and commend President Obama for his historic leadership on this issue. But as the President himself has said, his Administration can’t solve the entirety of this challenge on its own. Congress needs to tackle both these issues. Legislation I have introduced called the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act does just that.

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.

Please share your thoughts on this legislation.