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Summit County Council Members Take A Stand On Climate Change, Refugees

courtesy of Summit County

During their first meeting of the year, the Summit County Council looked at two topics on the national stage.

They endorsed two separate Resolutions, dealing with climate change, and resettling refugees.

The Council has previously voted for a Resolution pledging to deal with the impacts of Climate Change.

Now, they’ve been approached by the state-wide Citizens Climate Lobby to support the Energy Initiative and Carbon Dividend Act, proposed in the U.S. Congress.

Tom Moyer, who is state-wide coordinator for the Lobby, said the proposal would place a revenue-neutral price on carbon.       

“So it places a fee on fossil fuels, applied at the source, so as far upstream in the economy as you can get it.  So the fee is applied to coal, oil and natural gas, based on their carbon content.  Fee starts at $15 a ton, which is the equivalent of 15 cents a gallon of gasoline, and then rises by $10 dollars per ton per year.  It has emissions reduction targets in the legislation of 40 percent economy-wide reductions by 2030, and 90 percent economy-wide reductions by 2050.  And if those targets are not met, then the rate of increase of the carbon price goes  up.   Instead of $10 per year, it becomes $15 a year.”

One important element, he said, is that all the revenue would go back to the public in dividend checks, similar to an IRS refund.

He said there is also a charge on imported products.      

“So instead of the United State unilaterally de-carbonizing its economy, and risking having our industry be exported to other countries, and our pollution be exported to other countries, that fee is assessed at the border from countries that do not have an equivalent carbon price on their products.”

Moyer said the national legislation has 72 co-sponsors.   In answer to a question from Council Member Roger Armstrong, he said not all the sponsors are Democrats.       

“(Armstrong) Is there any whiff of bi-partisanship here.   (Moyer) Yes, a whiff is exactly how it would be described.  Of those 72 co-sponsors, one of them is a Republican, Francis Rooney of Florida.   And he’s one of the original co-sponsors with Ted Deutch also of Florida.  (Armstrong) He was standing in ankle-deep seawater on his front porch at the time?  (Moyer) His constituents are demanding that he do something about climate change.”

Council Member Glenn Wright said that Utah Senator Mitt Romney hasn’t addressed this legislation, but has spoken positively about dealing with climate change.

The Council also voted to support a letter, to be sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying that Summit County will do what can to help resettle refugees.

The letter was written by Armstrong.    He said he got in touch with the state’s Director of Refugee Services, Asha Parekh to help understand the process.   She said it’s not likely, but still possible, that the county could be called upon to accommodate a number of refugees.        

“Given our location, given the housing issues that we have, and other challenges that we have here, we’re probably not extremely high on the list for refugee resettlement.  But if the need arose, that Summit County would be contacted, and a discussion would ensue about who, from where, for what purpose, what the needs would be.”

Armstrong said that since 1980, the United States has, on average, resettled about 85,000 refugees a year.    In recent years, starting with 2016, that has dropped as low as 45,000 or 30,000 people annually.

Armstrong said the issue came home for him when he and his son made a visit to Guatemala, a country that is teetering on a lawless condition.      

“So when you see the people living in those conditions, and you hear about people that are living under the threat of death or political persecution or religious persecution in those countries, seeking refuge with countries that are more stable, whether it’s the United States or other Western countries—it seems that now is probably not the right time for us to withdraw from the world stage in that regard.  So I thought it was appropriate for us to offer up  that, to the extent that refugees are in need, and to the extent that we can provide a haven, Summit County is willing to do that.”

Summit County Council Member Roger Armstrong

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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