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Innovative Bill Would Fight Climate Change While Aiding Middle Class Americans

Climate

How can the U.S. help repair shrinking ice caps while also aiding the shrinking middle class?

A straightforward approach to tackling climate change while helping the middle class with a “cap and dividend” approach was introduced today by Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md). The “Healthy Climate and Family Security Act” has received the support of a coalition of national, state and local groups representing environmental, justice and consumer organizations.

“Two of the most pressing challenges we face as a country are the need to address the economic costs and public health risks associated with climate change, and to strengthen the middle class. We do both in this bill,” said Congressman Van Hollen, lead sponsor of the bill. “By capping carbon emissions, selling permits, and returning 100 percent of the revenue to everyone equally, this ‘Cap and Dividend’ approach achieves necessary greenhouse gas reductions while boosting the purchasing power of families across the country. Tackling our problems and moving everyone forward is America at its best. That’s what this bill does, and that’s exactly where we need to be.”

The following graphic summarizes the act:

 

Under the policy, the median American household of four would be expected to receive a net benefit of about $260 in the first year. The dividend would grow steadily each year, offering all lower- and middle-income Americans a net increase in their annual income.

In a statement of support for the act, environmental and consumer groups stated: “This Van Hollen legislation will help solve the climate crisis while growing our economy and helping working families prosper. It is simple, fair and built to last.”

Original bill co-sponsors include Congressmen Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and Rush Holt (NJ-12).

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

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At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.