Frequently Asked Questions:

The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act


By putting a steadily tightening cap on U.S. global warming pollution, this bill will reduce carbon emissions 20% below 2005 levels by 2020; 40% lower by 2030 and 80% lower by 2050. It will put money into the pockets of every U.S. resident with a Social Security number via quarterly rebates. It is projected that the median family of four will receive a NET benefit of about $260 per year1 at the beginning of the program and that amount will increase steadily in following years. The legislation will drive the transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to one based on clean energy sources by steadily tightening the cap — year after year — on carbon-based fuels.

Rep. Donald Beyer (VA-8)
Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-17)
Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)
Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Earl (OR-3)
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-3)
Rep. Peter Welch (VT-At Large)
Rep. Charles Rangel (NY-13)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19)
Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28)
Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA-32)
Rep. Michael Honda (CA-17)
Rep. John Conyers (MI-13)
Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-9)
Rep. Ted Lieu (CA-33)
Rep. Janice Hahn (CA-44)
Rep. James McGovern (MA-2)
Rep. Janice Schakowsky (IL-9)
Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5)
Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL-20)
Rep. Sam Farr (CA-20)
Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09)
Rep. Nydia Velasquez (NY-7)
Rep. Richard Nolan (MN-8)

It is raised by requiring companies that import or mine fossil fuels — coal, oil and natural gas — to buy a permit for every ton of carbon dioxide, or CO2, those fuels would emit once introduced into the U.S. economy. These companies, approximately 2,500 of them,2 will buy these permits at auctions organized by the U.S. Department of Treasury. It is projected that, over the first 10 years of this program, more than half a trillion dollars will be raised.3

Yes. If subsequent science-based evidence shows greater reductions are needed, the bill states that carbon reduction targets and schedules can “be revised [by Congress] in order to avert catastrophic climate impacts.”

They are explicitly prevented from buying or selling the carbon shares/emissions permits.

Yes, but only among the 2,500 or so fossil fuel companies that are each required to buy shares at auction.

28 pages. (By comparison, the House-passed “cap and trade” bill of 2009 was 1,400 pages.)

Yes. At the point of entry, the bill provides for a fee to be imposed on carbon-intensive import goods, making them comparable in price to U.S. goods under the domestic cap. It also provides for financial assistance to U.S. exporters of carbon-intensive goods to countries without a similar carbon cap program.

Sign your group on in support: There are many groups and individuals around the country who are actively supporting the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act. Please consider joining them by having your group sign this support statement.

Sign the petition: Urge your representatives in Congress to support this bill and get regular updates on its progress. Click here to take action.

Spread the word: You can send out a link to this website — — to people you know via email, Facebook and Twitter.

Additional Resources

The latest on the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act:

Background information on the cap and dividend approach:

  • FAQs on Cap and Dividend and climate justice, prepared by Professor James K. Boyce.
  • The Climate Justice Imperative,” by James K. Boyce, Political Economy Research Institute, UMass-Amherst (2011). Boyce writes, “A cap on carbon emissions is essential, but instead of giving free permits to polluters – a central plank in “cap-and-trade” schemes – polluters should pay. … The revenues should be returned to the people.”
  • Cap and Dividend: A State-by-State Analysis,” by James K. Boyce & Matthew E. Riddle,
    Political Economy Research Institute at UMass – Amherst. This research paper provides estimates for how families in all 50 states will fare under a cap-and-dividend system, assuming a carbon permit auction price of $25/ton and that 80% of the money raised is returned to U.S. residents. (The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act would return 100% of the revenues.) This study shows that differences across states are small.
  • Senate Testimony on Cap and Dividend Polices, by James K. Boyce, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts/Amherst (2009). Why a cap and dividend policy is good for the environment, the economy and families.
  • Washington Post editorial: “Cap and Return” (2008). The Post writes, “How to accomplish [reductions in greenhouse gas emissions] without exacerbating the recession? No problem. Return to the American people every penny of the trillions of dollars expected to be generated by these sales.”
  • Peter Barnes in Scientific American: “Cap and Dividend, Not Trade: Making Polluters Pay” (2008). Peter Barnes compares the “cap and trade” model to the “cap and dividend” model, explaining why a cap and dividend model is more effective, fairer and popular.


FAQ footnotes:
1. Based on research by Professor James K. Boyce of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts. Dr. Boyce assessed the net impact of the bill (the dividend payment minus increased cost of fossil fuels) for a median U.S. family of four, based on a $10/ton price on carbon.
2. U.S. Congressional Research Service memorandum. “Number of entities/companies potentially subject to a carbon price proposal.” 25 July 2014.
3. Based on the 2012 U.S. Congressional Research Service report, “Carbon Tax: Deficit Reduction and Other Considerations,” which found that a $20/ton price on carbon would yield, over a 10 year period, more than a trillion dollars in revenue. A $10/ton starting price on carbon increased at the same rate over ten years would yield more than $500 billion.