There are three types of vulnerable communities that are considered and protected in the RIPE Roadmap.
First, low-income and moderate-income families risk the burden of extra energy bills. If the polluting energy companies pass along the price to households, low-income households can be fully protected from direct and indirect costs with 30% of the carbon revenue, finds the Congressional Budget Office. The U.S. Treasury finds that only 10% of the carbon revenue is needed because they think the energy industries will not pass along the full costs and will pay for it out of their profit margins. As such, the RIPE Roadmap recommends that policymakers allocate at least 20-30% of the revenue raised from residential rates to protect the 40% of households earning less than $45,000. The first-choice policy recommendation is a fixed payment for each adult annually to rebate the costs, paid via a Permanent Dividend Fund as is successfully done in Alaska. This amount fully protects low-income and middle-income households from the energy costs that might be passed along directly and indirectly. The flat fee approach is an equitable and progressive way to protect vulnerable communities.
Second, communities who depend on coal mines are already struggling due to economic and environmental forces that have lowered demand for coal. This policy could further stress these communities. These communities served our country with honor, and we owe them gratitude and protection, as our energy system transforms to other cleaner energy sources. The RIPE Roadmap can provide tens of millions of dollars in annual funding for coal communities to invest in their priorities, which can include retirement accounts, healthcare, economic development funds and other economic safety nets to support hard-working coal miners.
Third, communities who live near power plants suffer from extra asthma and other health impacts from the array of air pollutants emitted. These communities, sometimes referred to as environmental justice (EJ) communities, have requested three types of policy designs from climate policy. First, the regressive nature of the pollution fee. This is fully addressed as discussed above. Second, that polluters pay for their pollution and not be given free permits. This is done in the RIPE Roadmap, as polluting energy companies must pay for all their pollution. Third, program funding is requested to address pollution reduction (e.g. diesel retrofits) or economic development. This can be done with the RIPE Roadmap recommendation of some of the TBD funds to be used for grants for EJ communities.