Daily Management Review

Republicans and Democrats focus on carbon pricing


With carbon tax bills, the changing wave has caught on to the Congress in the U.S.

From both sides congress members are presenting “competing bills” with the aim of introducing a “tax on carbon”. The Democrats as well as the Republicans are under the pressure of their respective constituents for regulating “greenhouse gas emission”; in fact in some cases, the “fossil fuel industry itself” urges the government to regulate emissions through a carbon tax.
Last week, “Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.)” presented “carbon tax bills”, as they are added to the “two other bipartisan measures” that propose “a carbon tax”. This push from the legislation comes as a surprise to some as there has been a long attempt to carry out actions on climate change. In the words of an ex-Republican Congressman, Carlos Curbelo from Florida:
“I can tell you from what I know is that we are worlds apart from the Congress that I left at the beginning of this year”.
Last year, Curbelo introduced “a carbon pricing bill” first time in almost ten years and he said:
“During my four years I think we made a lot of progress on changing the culture to make it acceptable to discuss this challenge, to name it for what it is — but even then a lot of Republicans were not anxious to engage”.
“Today, not just rank and file from moderate districts, but leading Republicans, senior Republicans are stepping out on the issue, making it clear that the debate should be over solutions, not over science or anything else of that nature, and for me it’s a sign of real progress.”
In Coons and Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bill, the “Climate Action Rebate Act of 2019”, the “greenhouse gas fees” starts at “$15 per metric ton of carbon” and increases over time. The bill estimates that “the tax would bring in $12 billion in revenue, which would then be distributed in part as a rebate to low income families”. Yet another portion would be used for clean energy investment, as the bill has an aim of reducing 55% of carbon emission in the U.S. by 2030, while arrive at “net zero emissions by 2050”.
On the other hand, another bill that was “introduced by Rooney with Lipinski as a co-sponsor”, “Stemming Warming and Augmenting Pay Act”, which proposes to “impose a $30 tax per metric ton of carbon”. The producers of fossil fuel as well as “large industrial emitters” will come under the said tax category. Furthermore, new “regulations on power plants” would be barred if they fail to comply with the “emissions targets set by the bill”.
The third bill, “the Raise Wages, Cut Carbon Act of 2019”, was introduced by “Lipinski with Rooney as the co-sponsor”, proposes to “spend revenue collected from the tax to cut payroll taxes, with a portion dealt to Social Security beneficiaries”. As per this bill the carbon will be taxed at “$40 per ton” while increasing the rate at a “slower pace than the other bills”.
In Curbelo’s words:
“I certainly think that anything that passes will have a dividend component to it, especially for low income families because that’s more of a moral issue. But I doubt that whatever passes is going to include a universal dividend, or have all the money go out in the shape of a dividend because I think most members of Congress will want to direct some of those resources to other priorities.”
While, people who have been for carbon tax implementation for a long time were all in praise for the current developments, as the Vice Presidents of Government Affairs for the “Citizens Climate Lobby”, Danny Richter said:
“We are excited to see Republicans and Democrats focusing their attention on the effective tool of carbon pricing”.
“The climate is neither Democratic nor Republican, nor is it waiting around for us to resolve our political differences. ... We need to build more bridges between the two parties, and have more bipartisan dialogue, if we are to take meaningful action.”
Talking about President Trump’s possible approach towards carbon tax, Coons added:
“As long as our president continues to insist climate is a hoax and as long as he is the most forceful voice in the Republican Party, that creates a headwind”.
While, Curbelo thinks:
“Like with all things Trump, it’s totally unpredictable. I could see him doubling down on what I think is a highly irresponsible approach to this, or I can see him drastically changing course and concluding this is a good issue politically”.
Coons sees the “bills as a first step”, in his words:
“I think long term, part of what we are doing here is putting out ideas and seeing what the response is both from other members and advocacy organizations”.