GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida outlined the goals of his carbon tax proposal Monday at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.
Curbelo summarized his bill’s goals of establishing regulatory certainty, raising funds to repair the U.S. highway system and set emissions standards in line with the Paris Climate Accords.
“While there are still some deniers out there, most Americans understand that climate change caused by human activity is a reality that must be addressed,” Curbelo said. “I remind my conservative colleagues who often decry our nation’s growing debt, saddling young Americans with a crushing environmental debt — meaning an unhealthy planet where life is less viable — is at least as immoral as leaving behind an unsustainable fiscal debt.”
Curbelo’s bill will set the United States on track to exceed the emissions-cutting goals laid out in the Paris Climate Accords. President Donald Trump announced in June 2017 the U.S. would pull out of the international climate agreement. (RELATED: Trump Pulled Out Of The Paris Climate Accords, But The US Is Spending Billions To Implement It)
The legislation places a $24-per-ton price on carbon with an annual increase of 2 percent. The added cost will decrease carbon emissions in the U.S. by 27 to 32 percent by 2025 and 30 to 40 percent by 2030, Curbelo said.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under former President Barack Obama used the metric of the social cost of carbon to develop regulations establishing a carbon tax on fossil fuel power plants. The Obama administration calculated a $36-per-ton cost to emissions. Trump’s EPA recalculated the results from the Obama era and found the cost much lower at just $5 per ton. (RELATED: Pruitt Is Overhauling EPA ‘Cost-Benefit’ Analysis That Obama Used To Justify Costly Regs)
The funds raised by Curbelo’s carbon tax will be put toward rebuilding the United States’ transportation system. The bill raises $285 billion for the Highway Trust Fund over the next 10 years and another $18 billion for the Airways Trust Fund, according to Curbelo.
“The bill would eliminate regressive, inefficient and discriminatory taxes like the gasoline tax and the aviation fuel tax to capture the entire economy,” Curbelo said, adding that the gasoline tax disproportionately affects low- and middle-class families that cannot afford hybrid or electric vehicles.
The bill also blocks the EPA from finalizing any more regulations under the Clean Air Act, which regulates emissions, to give regulatory certainty to businesses and industries, Curbelo said.
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