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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 3 hours ago - World

In photos: Pope Francis spreads message of peace on first trip to Iraq

Pope Francis waving as he arrives near the ruins of the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception (al-Tahira-l-Kubra), in the old city of Iraq's northern Mosul on March 7. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting areas of northern Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.

Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq. The purpose of Francis' four-day visit is largely intended to reassure the country's Christian minority, who were violently persecuted by ISIS, which controlled the region from 2014-2017.

Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February press conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.

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