GOP Senate Hopeful Unveils Bill Critics Warn Could Lead To Carbon Taxes

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Nick Pope Contributor
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Republican Utah Rep. John Curtis unveiled a bipartisan bill Tuesday that critics fear could be the first step toward domestic carbon taxes.

Curtis, who is running for U.S. Senate in Utah, introduced the PROVE IT Act in the House alongside Democratic California Rep. Scott Peters, putting forward the complement to the already-introduced Senate version of the bill. The bill’s proponents insist that it merely instructs the Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct a study determining the carbon intensity of American goods relative to certain foreign competitors, but its critics are strongly concerned that the federal government would be able to use the study’s findings as the predicate for carbon taxes or tariffs once it has established a mechanism for carbon pricing.

“We should embrace the fact that American industries produce cleaner and with better standards than anywhere else in the world,” Curtis said of the bill’s introduction in a Tuesday press release. “This bill is not just about proving our energy dominance; it’s about leveling the playing field in international competition. Russia and China are on an unapologetic trajectory to energy dominance, using none of the innovative technologies or regulations that make our energy cleaner in the United States. This legislation will help American businesses compete globally, strengthen our trade relationships, and provide our allies with a reliable energy partner.” (RELATED: Dozens Of Energy Policy Experts Write To Congress Opposing ‘Carbon Tax’ Gateway Bill)

PROVE It – House by Nick Pope on Scribd

Curtis released the bill text about two weeks after winning the GOP Senate primary in Utah.

While the American Petroleum Institute (API) — one of the biggest oil and gas lobbying groups in the country — supports the bill and was involved in behind-the-scenes efforts to push it, numerous other smaller energy-focused organizations and experts have opposed the bill. Their opposition stems from their concern that the bill would authorize federal bureaucrats to get into the business of carbon pricing without adequate restrictions on how that information can be used going forward.

The bill offers a “clarification” on the issue of the study’s future use, stating that nothing in the legislation “provides any new authority to any Federal agency to impose, collect, or enforce a greenhouse gas emissions tax, fee, duty, price, or charge” or “to establish a new mandatory reporting requirement” for covered products. The study deputized by the bill would cover aluminum, cement, crude oil, iron, steel, natural gas, petrochemicals, plastics and more.

Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance and an opponent of the bill, is not convinced that the bill’s clarifying language is sufficient to protect against carbon taxes and tariffs.

“The whole purpose of this legislation is to empower the administration to set the tax in motion. This language won’t change that fact and they know it. I don’t blame them for wanting to shield their support for carbon taxes from the voters. It’s wildly unpopular,” Pyle told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “So they would rather have some nameless faceless bureaucrats do their dirty work for them, which is exactly what the PROVE IT Act will do.”

Mike McKenna, a GOP strategist with significant energy sector experience who also opposes PROVE IT, also expressed his doubts that the bill will not eventually facilitate new carbon taxes and tariffs.

“The big problem with the bill is that it creates infrastructure to impose a carbon dioxide tax,” McKenna previously told the DCNF. “As everyone who has had more than ten seconds of exposure to the federal government knows, once that infrastructure can be put in place, it’s going to be used.”

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