Jul 23, 2018 - Energy & Environment

GOP congressman introduces carbon tax bill

Carlos Curbelo speaks enthusiastically and points a finger at the audience

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida officially introduced his legislation taxing carbon emissions Monday afternoon.

The bottom line: This bill is significant not because it has a chance at passing Congress soon (it doesn’t), but because it’s the first substantive Republican measure on the issue in nearly a decade. The bill’s existence will further fuel what has been for months a simmering policy and political fight over one of the most contentious ideas Washington has ever considered.

The details: The 71-page bill, H.R. 6463, eliminates the federal gasoline tax and creates a tax on carbon emissions. Curbelo has one official Republican co-sponsor, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, whose office didn't immediately return a request for comment.

The intrigue: In classic Washington style, Curbelo introduced his bill at an event at the National Press Club in downtown D.C., followed almost immediately by a competing event just a few feet away highlighting conservative opposition to the measure.

  • Curbelo’s press conference included influential, centrist environmental groups including the Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and the libertarian think tank Niskanen Center.
  • The opposing event that took place after was hosted by Americans for Tax Reform and included conservative speakers who came out against the policy.

What we’re hearing: A lot of reaction is coming in, but not all of it is as essential to the debate as others. Here are a couple key ones.

  • An ExxonMobil spokesman said: “We appreciate Rep. Curbelo’s effort to help generate a constructive discussion on this important issue.” Exxon has said it supports a carbon tax for almost a decade now, but it didn’t explicitly endorse the bill. That isn’t particularly unusual; most companies and organizations didn’t explicitly endorse the bill today.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council, an influential environmental group with congressional Democrats, said the bill fell short of what’s needed to address climate change.

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