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Former U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello speaks during a news conference in 2018. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) is joining a political advocacy campaign pushing a carbon tax in Washington where the money goes back to Americans.

Why it matters: The 42-year-old Costello, who just retired after last Congress, represents a younger mold of Republicans more willing to buck GOP orthodoxy on issues like climate change. While most elected Republicans continue to ignore or dismiss the issue, this move shows cracks in that mindset are (slowly) growing.

Details: Costello, who spent four years in Congress, will be managing director of Americans for Carbon Dividends, a political advocacy group launched last year that now has two big oil companies funding it.

  • He announced his new gig in an opinion piece in Tuesday’s The Wall Street Journal, where he called on Republicans to shift on several issues, including climate change, otherwise the 2018 midterm results where GOP lost control of the House "could be just the tip of the iceberg."
  • Costello can’t lobby Congress for a year, but in the meantime he’ll be building grassroots support for the policy outside of Washington and may “engage in some political campaign-related activity for the 2020 cycle,” he said in an interview Monday.
“I do think as a Republican, the days of saying climate change is a real issue and patting yourself on the back have come to an end. There needs to be a specific policy proposal.”
— Ryan Costello

One level deeper: Ted Halstead, CEO of the group who also coordinates a connected initiative called the Climate Leadership Council, says a goal is to have up to seven senators from both parties introduce a version of the plan in Congress by year’s end.

  • The plan, which also has backing from other former Republican politicians, includes a $40 price on carbon emissions that rises over time, with the proceeds sent back to Americans via quarterly dividend checks.
  • While details of the plan are still being flushed out, two points are particularly controversial among environmentalists: preempting some regulations and shielding oil companies from certain lawsuits related to climate change.

Reality check: Halstead’s goal is a lofty one facing steep odds in a Washington looking more polarized amid a partial government shutdown, ahead of the 2020 presidential race and with President Trump in the White House. Carbon taxes, no matter what is done with the money, have long been deemed politically toxic. Democrats, meanwhile, are galvanizing around the vague but popular-sounding Green New Deal policy pushed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D.-N.Y.).

Go deeper: Oil giant ConocoPhillips backs carbon tax push

Go deeper

Updated 18 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Swastikas found outside Union Station in D.C.

People walk through Union Station on Jan. 16 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Drawings of swastikas appeared etched around the entrance to Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Friday morning.

Driving the news: "An investigation is underway with Amtrak Police and the Metropolitan Police Department after swastikas were reported on the exterior of Washington Union Station on Friday," Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods said in a statement to Axios.

In photos: Biden visits collapsed bridge in Pittsburgh

President Biden and the Mayor of Pittsburgh Ed Gainey visit the scene of the Forbes Avenue Bridge collapse over Fern Hollow Creek in Frick Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 28, 2022. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Friday visited the site of the collapsed bridge in Pittsburgh.

Driving the news: "I’ve been coming to Pittsburgh a long time,” Biden said, adding that there are more bridges than any other city in the world. "And we’re going to fix them all," he said, per a White House pool reporter.

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