GOP congressman touts carbon tax legislation

GOP congressman touts carbon tax legislation
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) is working to drum up support from his GOP colleagues for his carbon tax proposal. The carbon tax would be imposed directly on businesses like power plants and refineries based on the amount of fossil fuels they purchase. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

A Republican congressman is touting a proposal for a carbon tax that he says could appease stakeholders across the political spectrum — and he’s gotten some of his GOP colleagues on board.

What are the details?

Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo introduced a bill in July that, if passed, would place a $24 per ton tax on carbon dioxide starting in 2020. Each year after that, the tax would be increased by 2 percent annually on top of the rate of inflation.

Speaking at the National Press Club after introducing the legislation, Curbelo said, “While there are still some deniers out there, most Americans today understand that climate change caused by human activity is a reality that must be addressed.

“I remind my colleagues who often decry our nation’s  growing debt that saddling young Americans with a crushing environmental debt, meaning an unhealthy planet, is at least as immoral as leaving behind an unsustainable fiscal debt.”

The carbon tax would be imposed directly on businesses like power plants and refineries based on the amount of fossil fuels they purchase, and is projected to add anywhere from 3 to 11 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas purchased at the pump. It would replace the federal gas tax.

Revenue generated from the Florida congressman’s plan would go toward building infrastructure projects like the building and maintenance of roads and bridges.

What are the chances of the bill passing?

Curbelo acknowledged to the Washington Examiner and the Wall Street Journal that his proposal has little chance of passing, but he has managed to get other Republican lawmakers on board by making the case that the plan would benefit interests on both sides of the aisle.

“This is designed ambitiously,” Curbelo explained to the Journal. “For some, it will be a clean energy bill. For some, it will be an infrastructure bill. … For others, it will be the bill that saves the planet. And all of those characterizations will be accurate.”

Rep. Curbelo co-chairs the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, and is seeking support for his plan from the group’s 42 other GOP members to back his legislation. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) and Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) have jumped on to co-sponsor the bill.

Speaking at a roundtable meeting on Tuesday, Curbelo told participants, “There is a policy reality and a political reality, and we try to merge both.

“We have the need to act on climate. We also have the need to act on infrastructure. That is the one issue where both parties agree, and maybe the only issue the presidential candidates of 2016 agree on.”

The Examiner reported that Curbelo is seeking a senator to introduce a version of his legislation in the upper chamber, and if re-elected this fall, he intends to tour the country to promote the plan.