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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

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.

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