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GOP Climate Hawk Rep. Rooney Introducing Carbon Tax Bill

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CCD Editor: As noted previously here, a carbon tax hurts the poor disproportionately and are anathema to growing the economy. They also haven’t been shown to ‘slow sea-level rise’ or avert warming as Rooney purports. In fact, other countries that have rolled out similar carbon taxes have ousted those liberal governments and ushered in conservative leadership.

Republican Rep. Francis Rooney is introducing a carbon tax bill Thursday that would use most of the revenue to reduce payroll taxes, his office told the Washington Examiner.

Rooney represents a southwest Florida district exposed to sea-level rise and is one of only two congressional Republicans who publicly support a carbon tax to fight climate change.

He previously introduced a different carbon tax bill this year that would return the revenue to U.S. households as monthly rebate checks, an approach that is favored by oil and gas companies and many economists.

Rooney’s new proposal is aimed at wooing fellow Republicans who have acknowledged climate change as a problem but haven’t committed to embracing anything more ambitious than research and development investments to promote clean energy innovation.

The bill is modeled after an approach promoted by the conservative group Alliance for Market Solutions that argues the best way to convince skeptical Republicans is to use the proceeds of a carbon tax to reduce other taxes.

“There is a view by some conservatives that a carbon tax is an opportunity to move to a consumption tax to reform the tax code,” Alex Flint, executive director of Alliance for Market Solutions, told the Washington Examiner. “We are trying to broaden that conversation to recognize a carbon tax has attributes beyond its ability to address carbon pollution.”

Alliance for Market Solutions hosted a briefing for congressional staff Tuesday aiming to convince mostly GOP members of the merits of a carbon tax as the most efficient way to address climate change, on the grounds that it is a market-based approach that would encourage energy producers to switch to cleaner non-fossil fuel alternatives if doing so costs less than paying the tax.

Rooney’s bill would set a carbon tax of $30 per metric ton, increasing 5% per year, leveling the tax on producers of fossil fuels at the “upstream” level of the economy, meaning coal is taxed at the mine, natural gas at the processing plant, and petroleum at the refinery.

It uses most of the revenue — 70% of it — to reduce payroll taxes for employees and employers, amounting to a nearly one percentage point cut in the total payroll tax rate.

The other 30% of the revenue would go into a “carbon trust fund” and be spent on research and development on clean energy technologies, energy efficiency improvements, and climate change adaptation measures.

Some of that fund would also be spent on block grants to states to compensate low-income households for increased energy costs from the tax.

The bill prohibits the government from issuing regulations of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act for 12 years, which Rooney said would be duplicative with a carbon tax.

It also creates a border carbon adjustment, forcing exporting countries to pay a fee on carbon-emitting products coming into the United States, to avoid harming the competitiveness of American industries.

Rooney’s office projects the legislation would reduce carbon emissions by 42% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, outpacing the reductions expected from existing policies.

If the carbon tax fails to meet this emissions target, then the carbon price can increase or the moratorium on regulations can be phased out.

Read more at Washington Examiner

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