Apr 10, 2019 - Energy & Environment

In shadow of Green New Deal, other climate-change bills proliferate

A Democratic Senate duo is introducing legislation today taxing carbon emissions, in the shadow of the largely symbolic but far higher profile debate about the Green New Deal.

The big picture: The bill, sponsored by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Brian Schatz of Hawaii, is the latest in a series of broad bills springing up in Congress after a near decade of mostly inaction on comprehensive climate policy.

Driving the news: At least three bills are forthcoming, with one already floated. Some of these were introduced for the first time last Congress.

  1. The Whitehouse and Schatz bill is similar to the one they introduced last Congress, which divided the money raised to the public and to other purposes. This bill would achieve more reductions in carbon emissions than the last version.
  2. Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania is going to re-introduce his own version of a carbon tax bill that he proposed last Congress alongside then-Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who lost his reelection bid. This bill eliminates the federal gasoline tax and uses the money raised for various purposes.
  3. Democrat Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota is crafting a clean energy standard bill, per her office.
  4. A bipartisan group of House members re-introduced another version of a carbon tax bill in January. This bill returns the money raised from the tax to the public.

But, but, but: None of these bills are likely to become law anytime soon given Republican political leaders, including President Trump, dismiss the issue, and they’re controlling much of Washington right now. Instead, these bills are a sign of a debate, long relegated to Washington’s back burner, re-emerging. Whether that translates into actual policy passing is a big open question.

What’s next: Expect more focus on the Green New Deal, which, despite its lack of detail compared to the aforementioned bills, is grabbing all the attention.

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