WASHINGTON – A group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers have teamed up on a bill that would put a price on carbon as a way to reduce pollution and curb climate change.
The members that have signed onto the House version of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA) include Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), John Delaney (D-Md.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).
According to Deutch, the legislation seeks to “help reduce U.S. carbon pollution by 40 percent in 12 years, with a 91 percent reduction target by 2050 (vs. 2015 levels)” by pricing carbon at $15 per metric ton of CO2e and “increasing the price by $10 every year.” Annually, the Treasury Department “would return 100 percent of the net revenue back to the American people.”
“The sea level rise is affecting our coastal communities and it is threatening real estate and clean water sources, shorter winters are impacting seasonal tourism,” Deutch said during a conference call on Monday evening.
“We’ve seen intensified hurricanes slamming into the southeastern U.S. and island territories and dry spells are leading to worse wildfires and harsher droughts – that is not some dystopian science fiction novel, these are the harsh facts of climate change that we are facing today,” he added.
Deutch explained that the net revenue generated from the legislation would be returned to taxpayers in the form of an annual tax rebate.
“This bill won’t solve all of our problems. We’re not naive to think that it would. And starting on Day One of the 116th Congress, we look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans alike to consider other parts of the climate change challenge like encouraging R&D and renewable energy options focusing on energy efficiency,” he said. “This a complex, difficult challenge but we cannot be the generation that allows it to become a runaway train. It’s time to put on the brakes.”
The Republican lawmakers were unable to join the press call and did not appear at the news conference about the bill, but they issued statements in support of the legislation.
“Since my first day in Congress, I have committed to finding solutions that mitigate the effects of climate change,” Fitzpatrick said. “We must take a bipartisan, market-driven approach to reduce carbon emissions, which are contributing to atmospheric change, rising sea levels, and more intense natural disasters. I am confident that bipartisan efforts to preserve our environment and protect our way of life for future generations will ultimately succeed.”
Deutch read a statement submitted by Rooney at the press conference on Tuesday.
“To let the free market price out coal we should consider value pricing carbon,” Rooney’s statement said. “A revenue-neutral carbon fee is an efficient, market-driven incentive to move toward natural gas and away from coal and to support emerging alternate sources of energy.”
Deutch called the legislation a “monumental step forward in showing our colleagues and the country that there is a bipartisan solution to climate change that faces and addresses the risks to our health, our environment and our economy that puts a price on pollution to end our reliance on carbon.”
Crist, the former governor of Florida, said the prospects of passing the bill are “very good” with a Democratic-led House and a Republican-led Senate.
“I think that we have a great opportunity, and it’s smart to go ahead and set the groundwork now instead of waiting until the next Congress. There’s no need to wait to do what is right,” he said.
When asked how he plans to deal with opposition to pricing carbon among voters in certain states like Washington, Deutch said returning revenue from the carbon tax to Americans should appeal to the public.
Washington state recently rejected a carbon emissions tax that was on the ballot.
“We can both impose a carbon fee to help change the behavior of polluters while at the same time addressing the regulatory framework to provide some certainty for them,” Deutch said. “I don’t know about the voters of Washington state, I don’t know how that was discussed or frankly how they addressed it, and I’m not so concerned about that.”