A Republican lawmaker facing a tough re-election campaign will introduce a bill to replace the federal gas tax with a tax on greenhouse gas emissions from industrial activities, according to plans obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s draft legislation would slap a $23 per ton tax on carbon dioxide emissions on a range of industrial activities, from refining to coal mining, the revenue of which would mostly go towards highway funding. (Here’s A Summary Of Curbelo’s Draft Carbon Tax Legislation)
The draft legislation would also direct some funding towards offsetting higher energy costs for poor families, funding global warming adaptation programs and compensating energy workers who lose their jobs.
The bill also puts a moratorium on some environmental regulations, though reining in regulations is contingent upon the country meeting emissions reductions goals. (RELATED: TRUMP: Our Biggest Threat Is ‘Nuclear Warming,’ Not Global Warming)
However, Curbelo’s proposed bill is not revenue-neutral, which is a key point so-called pro-carbon tax conservative groups tend to back. Replacing the static gas tax with an ever-increasing tax on emissions would raise revenue, but also increase the burden of government.
“If he introduces the legislation in this form, he’s going to walk into the hornet’s nest,” Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, told The Daily Caller news Foundation. “He would be introducing a whole new host of opponents to a carbon tax.”
Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) pushed a blog post warning carbon tax proponents to “beware” of what happened to Australian politicians who backed a carbon tax. ATR noted the “carbon tax was an instant debacle and those responsible were promptly kicked out of office by voters.”
Indeed, the $23 per ton tax would increase 2 percent above inflation per year. A carbon tax would also affect more than the price of gasoline — the price of all goods and services would increase, including electricity and heating bills.
Curbelo hopes he can sell his plan based on replenishing the much depleted Highway Trust Fund, which could then be used to beef up U.S. infrastructure. Conservative leaders, however, have already condemned the tax swap.
“Voters aren’t buying this, it’s politicians taking more money out of their pockets,” said Pyle, who also served on Trump’s transition team. Pyle also said he would try and meet with Curbelo or write a letter urging him to abandon this plan.
Pyle noted that Curbelo’s plan would replace an existing user fee with a tax on industry, creating a whole new coalition that could oppose the tax. Curbelo’s carbon tax plan also tries to hide the costs that would be ultimately borne by consumers by moving the point of compliance from the gas pump or electric bill to industrial facilities.
Curbelo, however, remained optimistic his plan would get attention in Congress, though he seemed to doubt it would pass. Indeed, the House is poised to pass an anti-carbon tax resolution in the coming days.
“This bill, we’ve put months and months into it and have taken it around to a lot of experts and groups and corporations. We have high hopes for it,” Curbelo told E&E News. “That doesn’t mean it gets passed this Congress, but it means we really think it could be a good base for bipartisan cooperation on this issue.”
Curbelo is facing a tough re-election in Florida’s 26th congressional district, which includes the bright blue Miami-Dade County. Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in this district by 30 percentage points, and election observers see a tough fight ahead for Curbelo.
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