Senators To Introduce Bipartisan Bill Taking Aim At China’s Carbon Emissions

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A bipartisan pair of senators are set to introduce on Wednesday a bill that would lay the groundwork for a future tax on products from China and other countries with less environmental protections than the U.S., according to The Washington Post.

Democratic Sen. Christopher Coons of Delaware and Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota will introduce the bill, known as the Prove It Act, which would require the Department of Energy to produce a report every five years estimating the average emissions intensity of products developed by the U.S. and foreign countries, The Post reported. The bill is the senators’ first step towards developing legislation to impose taxes on goods like iron, steel, oil and fertilizer from China and other countries that are not taking significant steps to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. (RELATED: ‘What Did You Find Out?’: GOP Senator Stumps Biden’s Interior Secretary With Questions About Major Wind Project)

China’s sort of an easy target,” Cramer told the outlet. “They are the ones producing cheap stuff. But there are other players besides China that are dirty producers taking advantage of our system.”


Then-Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) speaks at the 2018 North Dakota Republican Party Convention in Grand Forks, North Dakota, U.S., April 7, 2018. Picture taken April 7, 2018. REUTERS/Dan Koeck

The move follows similar legislation from the European Union (EU) that was finalized in April and received pushback from companies in the U.S.,  which were concerned about red tape, as well as those in China and the developing world that have more relaxed climate standards. Coons told the Post that “over the next few years” he hoped to help create a “carbon club” of allied nations to coordinate climate responses and ease tensions surrounding the issue.

Cramer told the Post that Republicans are generally “pretty cool to the idea of a carbon tax.” GOP lawmakers tend to oppose such measures on the grounds that they would harm U.S. fossil fuels, but taxing foreign firms is generally seen as more palatable, the Post reported.

“We spend so much time as Republicans saying hell no to people who want to tax carbon or want to somehow decarbonize,” he added. “But the whole ‘America First’ movement and agenda is a comfortable place for Republicans. So this is the low-hanging fruit of climate policy or trade policy or whatever you want to call it.”

Dan Kish, a senior fellow at the conservative Institute for Energy Research, criticized the border tax as a “fool’s errand” in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation. Although the current proposals would only impact foreign nations, Kish argued that it would provide “license for politicians” to implement a similar domestic tax that would “steal more money from the pockets of Americans.”

Other co-sponsors of the bill include Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and John Hickenlooper of Colorado as well as Independent Angus King of Maine, the Post reported.

The offices of Coons and Cramer did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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