Thursday, July 19, 2018

A New GOP Carbon Tax Proposal Is a Long Shot, but It’s a Shot Worth Taking

Carlos Curbelo (Credit: Grist / Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call / Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.There’s a very small chance that President Trump, later this year, could sign into law the country’s first-ever federal climate change legislation — and it might actually be a good thing.

I know, I know.  I hear you.  Yes, this is the same Trump who bailed on the Paris climate agreement last year.  But there’s now a possibility that he could have the opportunity to meet its goals anyway.

According to E&E News, Florida congressman Carlos Curbelo — a Republican — will introduce legislation next week that calls for a gradually escalating carbon tax specifically designed to accelerate the decarbonization of the U.S. economy.

Starting in 2020, the proposal would require fossil fuel companies and manufacturers to pay a fee of $23 per ton for their carbon emissions, rising slightly faster than inflation.  It’s a relatively low tax to start, but it could ramp up significantly over time.  The fee would rise an additional $2 each year emissions targets aren’t met — a clever twist.  Preliminary modeling shows that the policy would be sufficient to meet former President Obama’s climate target under the Paris Agreement — a 26 to 28 percent reduction in U.S. emissions by 2025, compared with 2005 levels.

There’s a catch, though.  In exchange for the fee, the proposal would completely eliminate the gasoline tax and press pause on the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (that’s in jeopardy anyway under the changing Supreme Court).  It would also devote most of its revenue to building new transportation infrastructure nationwide.  That it raises money at all is controversial — most Republicans in favor of a carbon tax want a completely revenue-neutral proposal.

In the midst of a tough reelection race in his Florida district, Curbelo (a member of the Grist 50) is bucking his own party by even proposing the legislation.  It’s a long shot, but with the right mix of ideas, it just might work.  Even if this specific bill doesn’t find its way to Trump’s desk, another one could, like the plan put forth by two Republican former Secretaries of State last year.

Read more at A New GOP Carbon Tax Proposal Is a Long Shot, but It’s a Shot Worth Taking

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