JENKINTOWN — Jenkintown Borough Council pushed for a large-scale environmental commitment during its May 22 meeting.
In a 9-1 vote, council passed a resolution calling upon state Rep. Madeleine Dean to join a coalition in support of House Bill 763: The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019.
The brainchild of Citizens Climate Lobby, a U.S.-based grassroots environmental group with 549 active chapters in 38 countries, the bill aims to reduce America’s carbon emissions by 40 percent in its first 12 years.
According to officials, the bill additionally calls for a tax on fossil fuels at the point of extraction. Revenue generated by the carbon tax would be allocated to American taxpayers through a Monthly Carbon Dividend Check.
“Council’s support of this resolution is just one part of a multi-pronged effort to achieve a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions by the year 2030,” President Deborra Sines-Pancoe said. “Jenkintown Borough Council has a long history of recommending energy conservation and sustainability measures. Our borough has an active EAC (Environmental Advisory Committee) and borough staff are continuously on the lookout for energy and cost saving measures."
“They’re seeing this as shifting our economy away from our dependence on fossil fuels,” Mayor Allyson Dobbs said. “The goal is to reduce the rate at which we used fossil fuels by 5 percent each year until 2030.”
Bill Metzler, who spoke on behalf of Citizens Climate Lobby, noted that the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was involved in the creation and assessment of the bill.
“Economists from around the world approve of this program,” Dobbs said. “It’ll encourage consumers to shop around. It’s a catalyst to move from carbon fuels to renewables.”
Officials said that Citizens Climate Lobby will co-sponsor an identical bill in the Senate if HB 763 passes in the House.
“It’s a grassroots effort. They’re going from town to town,” Dobbs said. “I feel that everyone I speak to is concerned about climate change. To me, it makes sense. It’ll drive the price of fossil fuels up, but those costs are to be offset by the Monthly Carbon Dividend Check. The carbon fee increases annually. In the first year, the fossil fuel industry would be charged $15 per ton. The next year would be $25 per ton, so on and so forth. Each year, that money will be paid directly back to households. The first year would be $66 a month to a family of four: 22$ per adult, 11$ per child.”
“They want at least 60 [co-signers],” Dobbs said. “We’ll hope that Madeleine signs on.”
In other matters, council’s plans for the Cedar St. Moretti Park took a step forward through a $99,850 MontCo 2040 Implementation Grant.
“Borough council is grateful to the county commissioners for awarding us this grant,” Sines-Pancoe said. “This grant is a result of the collaboration and cooperation of many individuals and groups who have contributed to the plan for the Cedar Street Moretti Park. We’re excited to move forward with adding more green space to our neighborhoods. This project is aligned with recommendations in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan for pursuing opportunities to create new open space and public gathering areas by repurposing existing spaces in the borough.”
The borough has applied for three grants to supplement its efforts in beautifying the public space.
“The $10,000 Green Region grant allows us to make plans,” borough manager George Locke said. “We have a really nice set of plans for Moretti Park that are engineered and ready to go. That was the beginning for us. The other two grants we have are being matched. We’re going to walk away with a park. It’s going to have a raingarden, a fence, signage, porous paved walking path, exterior fence. it’ll be a usable space.”