While generally supporting the idea of reduced carbon emissions, Delaware City Council on June 11 balked at the idea of specifically endorsing a national "carbon fee and dividend" to accomplish it.
The Citizens' Climate Lobby advocates federal legislation to establish the fee, which is designed to minimize the effects of carbon emissions linked to "greenhouse" climate warming.
Members of the lobby's Delaware chapter in May asked council to pass a resolution endorsing such federal legislation.
Council took no vote on the resolution June 11.
"My concern is this is a significant public policy issue I don't really fully understand all the repercussions of," Councilman Kent Shafer said.
"I'm not prepared to support this without hearing from economists. ... I support the city's making a resolution to reduce our carbon footprint ... but this public policy issue I don't feel like I have enough information to support it," he added.
Other council members echoed his view.
City Attorney Darren Shulman said he will revise the resolution's language and circulate a draft in advance of a future council meeting.
City Manager Tom Homan said the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission might be able to assist the city with the resolution.
"I think they probably could provide us with some language that would address the city's commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, without prescribing a particular approach to doing that," he said.
The lobby's website, citizensclimatelobby.org/carbon-fee-and-dividend, says the fee "will stimulate investment in alternative-energy technologies, and give all businesses powerful incentives to increase their energy-efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints in order to remain competitive."
Minus "minimal administrative costs," the fee would be distributed among households as "a monthly energy dividend" to meet costs associated with the plan, the lobby says.
Mayor Carolyn Riggle said she thinks all city leaders support the idea of reducing carbon emissions, but the full effects of the fee are unknown, adding, "It's hard for us to fully support this."
Councilman Chris Jones, who introduced the resolution, said, "If you want to hear from economists and this and that, we can bring all the presentations you want."
Noting the resolution is a nonbinding issue, Councilwoman Lisa Keller asked if it wouldn't be simpler to pass an endorsement that doesn't specifically mention the carbon fee.
"We have our hands full with city of Delaware issues," she said. "Do we really want to put ourselves through the trouble of hearing both sides? This isn't a congressional hearing."
Sharlee Murphy, a local member of the lobby, said she understood the complexity of the issue.
Murphy said she was a lobby member for about 18 months before she fully understood the proposal.
"The reason we brought this to you," Murphy said, "is we are really looking to show that citizens and communities are interested and want some action. This really has been studied extensively by economists and scientists, and we have all of that. You probably don't have time to go over it, and I totally understand that."
She repeated the Citizens' Climate Lobby's request that the fee be part of the resolution.
The lobby's website says the monthly payment to households from the fee will "ensure that families and individuals can afford the energy they need during the transition to a greenhouse-gas-free economy, and the dividends will stimulate the economy."
The dividend also would help consumers "pay the higher prices of goods and services caused by the higher price of fossil fuels. This allows businesses to pass along the increased cost and keep market share. ... Everyone is on a level playing field, so businesses who do not become more energy-efficient and start converting to low-emissions energy will become less competitive and risk losing market share," the website says.