Alabama man to lobby for carbon fee in Washington

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Montgomery’s own Bryan Seigneur, a computer programmer with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, will advocate for what he calls a “Carbon Fee and Dividend” to Alabama’s congressional delegation in Washington.

Seigneur is a member of a group called the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. The group will send Seigneur and others to D.C. in a push to convince national legislators to adopt a $15-per-ton fee on greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. That fee would increase to $25 per ton after one year, and continue to ramp up $10 a year in order to discourage the use of carbon-emitting industrial processes used in producing fossil fuels.

Alabama is an unlikely place to begin with its Republican-dominated legislative delegation. But although it may seem like a stretch to think free-market conservatives such as Sen. Jeff Sessions and U.S. Rep. Marth Roby, will buy into his plan, which evokes the erstwhile “cap and trade” scheme popular a few years ago to many observers, Seigneur says it’s all about getting the ball rolling.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Rep. Gary Palmer, then president of the Alabama Policy Institute, wrote an opinion piece “Cap-and-Trade by other means” that highlights estimated cost that cap-and-trade legislation or regulations would have on the state. He cited the higher across-the-board energy costs and business development issues related to proposals such as the one Seigneur is pushing, and advocated that lawmaker stand up for those he believes would be stuck paying the bill.

“We believe that our proposal is a conservative proposal,” Seigneur told the Montgomery Advertiser recently. “It is part of the role of government to protect the rights of its people and the right of their property. When that is endangered by specific things occurring and harming the environment in the future, and threatening real reduction in GDP out one or two generations, then the role of government is to reduce the harmful behavior.”

“We have one primary interest, and of course that’s creating the political will for the climate,” Seigneur said.

Advocates are buoyed by comments by Pope Francis in a recent church encyclical that called for greater stewardship of natural resources in the face of what he called a serious threat posed by climate change.

“I think the Pope needs to continue to study this,” Sen. Sessions told The Associated Press late last week. “I think it will be given respectful treatment, but I don’t think it’s going to change a lot of votes.

According to the Advertiser, Seigneur’s itinerary also calls for a meeting with Sen. Richard Shelby, who has a strong history of advocating against policies dealing with emissions that he thinks will drive up energy prices for Alabama families and businesses. Among the actions taken by both Alabama senators, Shelby and Sessions, was joining 40 others to co-sign a letter decrying the Obama administration’s proposed rule that dealt with emissions, voting against cap-and-trade and being outspoken advocates against the EPA.

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