Jan 8, 2019

Former GOP Rep. Ryan Costello pushes carbon tax

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

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,252,265 — Total deaths: 68,413 — Total recoveries: 258,495Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 325,185 — Total deaths: 9.267 — Total recoveries: 16,820Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. Work update: Queen Elizabeth II urges the British people to confront pandemic with "self-discipline" and "resolve" in rare televised address.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Queen Elizabeth addresses U.K. amid coronavirus crisis: "We will meet again"

In a rare televised address on Sunday, Queen Elizabeth II urged the United Kingdom to respond to the coronavirus pandemic with the "self-discipline" and "resolve" that have defined the British people in moments of crisis.

Why it matters: It's just the fifth time that the queen, who traditionally speaks to the nation once a year on Christmas Day, has addressed the British people in this way during her 68-year reign.

Go deeperArrow21 mins ago - World

Cuomo says New York is "literally going day-to-day with our supplies"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference on Sunday that New York is struggling to maintain medical supplies while combatting the novel coronavirus — operating "literally" on a "day-to-day" basis.

Why it matters: New York City has become an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, facing mass quarantines and stay-at-home orders. Cuomo said Saturday that New York reported 630 new deaths in 24 hours — an "all-time increase" that beat the previous day's record of 562 deaths.