How a Carbon Tax & Dividend Would Benefit the Midwest

People often assume environmental policies are bad for the economy, but this belief was debunked in a big way at the last Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) Annual Conference in June 2014.

I was in the audience when Scott Nystrom of Regional Economic Models, Inc (REMI) gave a great presentation on jobs growth that would result from a national Fee & Dividend-style carbon tax (hereafter F&D). This is the same policy that CCL has been lobbying on for the last five years.

Having glanced at the report before the conference, I knew the big-picture details: that a carbon tax escalating $10/ton of carbon per year with revenue returned to households would add 2.2 million jobs over ten years. Improvements in air quality would save 13,000 lives a year. Emissions would decline by 33 percent.

What surprised me from Scott’s presentation though was the specific benefits F&D would have on the Midwest, my homeland.

The Great Lakes states (what the Census Bureau refers to as East North Central – ENC) will benefit from such a policy more than any other census region studied – in terms of better health, population growth, and more jobs.

Here’s Scott talking about the benefits to health and migration, in particular:

Here are some other choice graphs from the report, keeping in mind that ENC is the dark red:

When it comes to jobs growth, most of the benefits will appear in healthcare and retail. In ENC, there’s a nearly 2% growth in employment by 2035 under this policy. The manufacturing numbers might seem like a concern to a state like Michigan, but Scott explains that most of the losses are in areas you’d expect, oil and coal production. Interestingly, auto manufacturing comes out ahead (these two graphs are national numbers):

And finally, take a look at the dramatic change in the Great Lakes States’ energy mix. No wonder health outcomes would improve so much. Green is wind, blue is coal:

A proposal that grows employment, improves health, prevents premature deaths and brings people back to the Midwest? Even if you don’t care about climate change, this is policy that Midwestern lawmakers should be pushing big-time.

To watch Scott’s full presentation, click Part 1 and Part 2.

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